India launched a national conditional cash transfer program, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), aimed at reducing maternal mortality by promoting institutional delivery in 2005. It provides a cash incentive to women who give birth in public health facilities. This paper studies the extent of program uptake, reasons for participation/non participation, factors associated with non uptake of the program, and the role played by a program volunteer, accredited social health activist (ASHA), among mothers in Ujjain district in Madhya Pradesh, India.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from January to May 2011 among women giving birth in 30 villages in Ujjain district. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to 418 women who delivered in 2009. Socio-demographic and pregnancy related characteristics, role of the ASHA during delivery, receipt of the incentive, and reasons for place of delivery were collected. Multinomial regression analysis was used to identify predictors for the outcome variables; program delivery, private facility delivery, or a home delivery.
The majority of deliveries (318/418; 76%) took place within the JSY program; 81% of all mothers below poverty line delivered in the program. Ninety percent of the women had prior knowledge of the program. Most program mothers reported receiving the cash incentive within two weeks of delivery. The ASHA's influence on the mother's decision on where to deliver appeared limited. Women who were uneducated, multiparious or lacked prior knowledge of the JSY program were significantly more likely to deliver at home.
In this study, a large proportion of women delivered under the program. Most mothers reporting timely receipt of the cash transfer. Nevertheless, there is still a subset of mothers delivering at home, who do not or cannot access emergency obstetric care under the program and remain at risk of maternal death.
Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY); Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT); Demand-Side Financing; India
This paper uses a close reading of villagers’ responses to the death in childbirth of a Muslim woman to raise questions about India’s current policy emphasis on institutional delivery as a means of reducing maternal mortality. After introducing the context and methods of our research, we describe recent policy interventions related to maternal health, including the National Rural Health Mission established in 2005. We then outline villagers’ commentaries on the specific maternal death, focusing on the costs to women’s health (and sometimes life) of high fertility; the lack of care available from rural government facilities and staff and the preference for delivering at home with the aid of local practitioners; the financial constraints that make people hesitate to seek medical treatment; and the high costs of private treatment and the poor treatment experienced in government facilities. Our core argument is that government health care provision in rural Uttar Pradesh is embedded in a moral universe characterised by widespread and long-term mistrust of state services and that encouraging institutional deliveries without addressing the perceptions of potential service users is a seriously flawed approach to reducing maternal mortality. The paper draws primarily on ethnographic research funded by the Wellcome Trust during 2002–2005, in a Muslim village in rural Bijnor district (in north-western Uttar Pradesh).
India; Maternal mortality; Institutional delivery; National rural health mission; Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY); Women; Muslims
Andhra Pradesh, a large state in southern India, has a high maternal mortality ratio of 195 per 100,000 livebirths despite the improvements in social, demographic and health indicators over the last two decades. This contrary situation has been analyzed using findings of different studies on maternal mortality, and four factors have been presented for consistently-high maternal mortality in the state. First, the disproportionately-high focus on family planning towards population stabilization reduced the emphasis on maternal health in the peripheral hospitals, resulting in low use of these facilities for childbirths. Second, the growth of services in Primary Health Centres was not given adequate emphasis, resulting in the weakening of the peripheral health system. Third, there was little emphasis on developing a cadre of midwives who would have primarily focused on maternal health. Lastly, the low status of women in the state has hampered timely referral and access to services.
Health facilities; Maternal health; Maternal mortality; Safe motherhood; India
Egypt's longstanding commitment to safe motherhood and maternal health has paid off in substantial declines in maternal mortality ratio and significant improvement in the levels of many maternal health indicators. The current study aims to monitor trends of maternal health indicators and their socioeconomic inequities among Egyptian women over ten-year period (1995-2005). It poses the question "to what extent have the recent maternal health improvements been shared among the various socioeconomic categories of women?"
The current paper uses data on maternal health available in three consecutive Demographic and Health Surveys (1995-2000-2005). Concentration index is used to assess the levels of health inequity over the ten year period.
Although previous efforts in maternal health have contributed to substantial improvements in the general levels of maternal health indicators, these improvements were not enjoyed equally by women in various social groups. Indicators that have long been the focus of health policy such as fertility and contraceptive use showed some declines in disparities but they are far behind from achieving equity. Other indicators which relate to unmet need, prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care still loaded with high levels of inequity and call for more comprehensive policy interventions.
Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 is focused on reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health care. India has made extensive efforts to achieve MDG 5 and in some regions much progress has been achieved. Progress has been uneven and inequitable however, and many women still lack access to maternal and reproductive health care.
In this review, a framework developed by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) is used to categorize and explain determinants of inequity in maternal and reproductive health in India.
A review of peer-reviewed, published literature was conducted using the electronic databases PubMed and Popline. The search was performed using a carefully developed list of search terms designed to capture published papers from India on: 1) maternal and reproductive health, and 2) equity, including disadvantaged populations. A matrix was developed to sort the relevant information, which was extracted and categorized based on the CSDH framework. In this way, the main sources of inequity in maternal and reproductive health in India and their inter-relationships were determined.
Five main structural determinants emerged from the analysis as important in understanding equity in India: economic status, gender, education, social status (registered caste or tribe), and age (adolescents). These five determinants were found to be closely interrelated, a feature which was reflected in the literature.
In India, economic status, gender, and social status are all closely interrelated when influencing use of and access to maternal and reproductive health care. Appropriate attention should be given to how these social determinants interplay in generating and sustaining inequity when designing policies and programs to reach equitable progress toward improved maternal and reproductive health.
maternal and reproductive health; millennium development goal 5; inequity; disadvantaged populations; social determinants of health; India
High maternal mortality in India is a serious public health challenge. Demand side financing interventions have emerged as a strategy to promote access to emergency obstetric care. Two such state run programs, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)and Chiranjeevi Yojana (CY), were designed and implemented to reduce financial access barriers that preclude women from obtaining emergency obstetric care. JSY, a conditional cash transfer, awards money directly to a woman who delivers in a public health facility. This will be studied in Madhya Pradesh province. CY, a voucher based program, empanels private obstetricians in Gujarat province, who are reimbursed by the government to perform deliveries of socioeconomically disadvantaged women. The programs have been in operation for the last seven years.
The study outlined in this protocol will assess and compare the influence of the two programs on various aspects of maternal health care including trends in program uptake, institutional delivery rates, maternal and neonatal outcomes, quality of care, experiences of service providers and users, and cost effectiveness. The study will collect primary data using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, including facility level questionnaires, observations, a population based survey, in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions. Primary data will be collected in three districts of each province. The research will take place at three levels: the state health departments, obstetric facilities in the districts and among recently delivered mothers in the community.
The protocol is a comprehensive assessment of the performance and impact of the programs and an economic analysis. It will fill existing evidence gaps in the scientific literature including access and quality to services, utilization, coverage and impact. The implementation of the protocol will also generate evidence to facilitate decision making among policy makers and program managers who currently work with or are planning similar programs in different contexts.
India; Demand side financing; Maternal morality; Chiranjeevi yojana; Janani suraksha yojana
Family planning has widespread positive impacts for population health and well-being; contraceptive use not only decreases unintended pregnancies and reduces infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, but it is critical to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. This study uses baseline, representative data from six cities in Uttar Pradesh, India to examine family planning use among the urban poor. Data were collected from about 3,000 currently married women in each city (Allahabad, Agra, Varanasi, Aligarh, Gorakhpur, and Moradabad) for a total sample size of 17,643 women. Participating women were asked about their fertility desires, family planning use, and reproductive health. The survey over-sampled slum residents; this permits in-depth analyses of the urban poor and their family planning use behaviors. Bivariate and multivariate analyses are used to examine the role of wealth and education on family planning use and unmet need for family planning. Across all of the cities, about 50% of women report modern method use. Women in slum areas generally report less family planning use and among those women who use, slum women are more likely to be sterilized than to use other methods, including condoms and hormonal methods. Across all cities, there is a higher unmet need for family planning to limit childbearing than for spacing births. Poorer women are more likely to have an unmet need than richer women in both the slum and non-slum samples; this effect is attenuated when education is included in the analysis. Programs seeking to target the urban poor in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in India may be better served to identify the less educated women and target these women with appropriate family planning messages and methods that meet their current and future fertility desire needs.
Slum; Uttar Pradesh; India; Family planning; Unmet need; Urban poor
India accounts for 19% of global maternal deaths, three-quarters of which come from nine states. In 2005, India launched a conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), to reduce maternal mortality ratio (MMR) through promotion of institutional births. JSY is the largest CCT in the world. In the nine states with relatively lower socioeconomic levels, JSY provides a cash incentive to all women on birthing in health institution. The cash incentive is intended to reduce financial barriers to accessing institutional care for delivery. Increased institutional births are expected to reduce MMR. Thus, JSY is expected to (a) increase institutional births and (b) reduce MMR in states with high proportions of institutional births. We examine the association between (a) service uptake, i.e., institutional birth proportions and (b) health outcome, i.e., MMR.
Data from Sample Registration Survey of India were analysed to describe trends in proportion of institutional births before (2005) and during (2006–2010) the implementation of the JSY. Data from Annual Health Survey (2010–2011) for all 284 districts in above- mentioned nine states were analysed to assess relationship between MMR and institutional births.
Proportion of institutional births increased from a pre-programme average of 20% to 49% in 5 years (p<0.05). In bivariate analysis, proportion of institutional births had a small negative correlation with district MMR (r = −0.11).The multivariate regression model did not establish significant association between institutional birth proportions and MMR [CI: −0.10, 0.68].
Our analysis confirmed that JSY succeeded in raising institutional births significantly. However, we were unable to detect a significant association between institutional birth proportion and MMR. This indicates that high institutional birth proportions that JSY has achieved are of themselves inadequate to reduce MMR. Other factors including improved quality of care at institutions are required for intended effect.
The Government of India initiated a cash incentive scheme—Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)—to promote institutional deliveries with an aim to reduce maternal mortality ratio (MMR). An observational study was conducted in a tertiary-care hospital of Madhya Pradesh, India, before and after implementation of JSY, with a sample of women presenting for institutional delivery. The objectives of this study were to: (i) determine the total number of institutional deliveries before and after implementation of JSY, (ii) determine the MMR, and (iii) compare factors associated with maternal mortality and morbidity. The data were analyzed for two years before implementation of JSY (2003-2005) and compared with two years following implementation of JSY (2005-2007). Overall, institutional deliveries increased by 42.6% after implementation, including those among rural, illiterate and primary-literate persons of lower socioeconomic strata. The main causes of maternal mortality were eclampsia, pre-eclampsia and severe anaemia both before and after implementation of JSY. Anaemia was the most common morbidity factor observed in this study. Among those who had institutional deliveries, there were significant increases in cases of eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, polyhydramnios, oligohydramnios, antepartum haemorrhage (APH), postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), and malaria after implementation of JSY. The scheme appeared to increase institutional delivery by at-risk mothers, which has the potential to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, improve child survival, and ensure equity in maternal healthcare in India. The lessons from this study and other available sources should be utilized to improve the performance and implementation of JSY scheme in India.
Conditional cash transfer; Institutional deliveries; Maternal mortality; Maternal survival; India
Only 40.7% women in India deliver in an institution; leaving many vulnerable to maternal morbidity and mortality (India has 22% of global maternal deaths). While limited accessibility to functioning institutions may account in part, a common reason why women deliver at home is poverty. A lack of readily available financial resources for families to draw upon at the time of labor to transport the mother to an institution, is often observed. This paper reports a yearlong collaborative intervention (between the University and Department of Health) to study if providing readily available and easily accessible funds for emergency transportation would reduce maternal deaths in a rural, low income, and high maternal mortality setting in central India. It aimed to obviate a deterrent to emergency obstetric care; the non-availability of resources with mothers when most needed. Issues in implementation are also discussed.
Maternal deaths were actively identified in block Amarpatan (0.2 million population) over a 2-year period. The project, with participation from local government and other groups, trained 482 local health care providers (public and private) to provide antenatal care. Emergency transport money (in cash) was placed with one provider in each village. Maternal mortality in the adjacent block (Maihar) was followed (as a ‘control’ block).
Maternal deaths in Amarpatan decreased during the project year relative to the previous year, or in the control block the same year.
Discussion and conclusions
Issues in implementation of the cash incentive scheme are discussed. Although the intervention reduced maternal deaths in this low-income setting, chronic poverty and malnutrition are underlying structural problems that need to be addressed.
Maternal mortality; India; Reproductive health servcies
Pregnant women inhabiting urban slums are a “high risk” group with limited access to health facilities. Hazardous maternal health practices are rampant in slum areas. Barriers to utilization of health services are well documented. Slums in the same city may differ from one another in their health indicators and service utilization rates. The study examines whether hazardous maternal care practices exist in and whether there are differences in the utilization rates of health services in two different slums.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional study was carried out in two urban slums of Aligarh city (Uttar Pradesh, India). House-to-house survey was conducted and 200 mothers having live births in the study period were interviewed. The outcome measures were utilization of antenatal care, natal care, postnatal care, and early infant feeding practices. Rates of hazardous health practices and reasons for these practices were elicited.
Hazardous maternal health practices were common. At least one antenatal visit was accepted by a little more than half the mothers, but delivery was predominantly home based carried out under unsafe conditions. Important barriers to utilization included family tradition, financial constraints, and rude behavior of health personnel in hospitals. Significant differences existed between the two slums.
The fact that barriers to utilization at a local level may differ significantly between slums must be recognized, identified, and addressed in the district level planning for health. Empowerment of slum communities as one of the stakeholders can lend them a stronger voice and help improve access to services.
Barriers to utilization; hazardous delivery practices; maternal health; urban slums
Studies have widely documented the socioeconomic inequalities in maternal and child health related outcomes in developing countries including India. However, there is limited research on the inequalities in advice provided by public health workers on maternal and child health during antenatal visits. This paper investigates the inequalities in advice provided by public health workers to women during antenatal visits in rural India.
Methods and Findings
The District Level Household Survey (2007–08) was used to compute rich-poor ratios and concentration indices. Binary logistic regressions were used to investigate inequalities in advice provided by public health workers. The dependent variables comprised the advice provided on seven essential components of maternal and child health care. A significant proportion of pregnant women who attended at least four ANC sessions were not advised on these components during their antenatal sessions. Only 51%–72% of the pregnant women were advised on at least one of the components. Moreover, socioeconomic inequalities in providing advice were significant and the provision of advice concentrated disproportionately among the rich. Inequalities were highest in the case of advice on family planning methods. Advice on breastfeeding was least unequal. Public health workers working in lower level health facilities were significantly less likely than their counterparts in the higher level health facilities to provide specific advice.
A significant proportion of women were not advised on recommended components of maternal and child health in rural India. Moreover, there were enormous socioeconomic inequalities. The findings of this study raise questions about the capacity of the public health care system in providing equitable services in India. The Government of India must focus on training and capacity building of the public health workers in communication skills so that they can deliver appropriate and recommended advice to all clients, irrespective of their socioeconomic status.
Like all health care consumers, pregnant women have the right to make autonomous decisions about their medical care. However, this right has created confusion for a number of maternity care stakeholders, particularly in situations when a woman’s decision may lead to increased risk of harm to the fetus. Little is known about care providers’ perceptions of this situation, or of their legal accountability for outcomes experienced in pregnancy and birth. This paper examined maternity care providers’ attitudes and beliefs towards women’s right to make autonomous decisions during pregnancy and birth, and the legal responsibility of professionals for maternal and fetal outcomes.
Attitudes and beliefs around women’s autonomy and health professionals’ legal accountability were measured in a sample of 336 midwives and doctors from both public and private health sectors in Queensland, Australia, using a questionnaire available online and in paper format. Student’s t-test was used to compare midwives’ and doctors’ responses.
Both maternity care professionals demonstrated a poor understanding of their own legal accountability, and the rights of the woman and her fetus. Midwives and doctors believed the final decision should rest with the woman; however, each also believed that the needs of the woman may be overridden for the safety of the fetus. Doctors believed themselves to be ultimately legally accountable for outcomes experienced in pregnancy and birth, despite the legal position that all health care professionals are responsible only for adverse outcomes caused by their own negligent actions. Interprofessional differences were evident, with midwives and doctors significantly differing in their responses on five of the six items.
Maternity care professionals inconsistently supported women’s right to autonomous decision making during pregnancy and birth. This finding is further complicated by care providers’ poor understanding of legal accountability for outcomes experienced in pregnancy and birth. The findings of this study support the need for guidelines on decision making in pregnancy and birth for maternity care professionals, and for recognition of interprofessional differences in beliefs around the rights of the woman, her fetus and health professionals in order to facilitate collaborative practice.
Autonomy; Decision making; Legal accountability; Maternity care; Childbirth; Maternal rights; Fetal rights; Health professionals
Improving maternal health is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. It is widely accepted that the use of maternal health services helps in reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. The utilization of maternal health services is a complex phenomenon and it is influenced by several factors. Therefore, the factors at different levels affecting the use of these services need to be clearly understood. The objective of this study was to estimate the effects of individual, community and district level characteristics on the utilisation of maternal health services with special reference to antenatal care (ANC), skilled attendance at delivery and postnatal care (PNC).
This study was designed as a cross sectional study. Data from 15,782 ever married women aged 15-49 years residing in Madhya Pradesh state of India who participated in the District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-3) 2007-08 were used for this study. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed accounting for individual, community and district level factors associated with the use of maternal health care services. Type of residence at community level and ratio of primary health center to population and percent of tribal population in the district were included as district level variables in this study.
The results of this study showed that 61.7% of the respondents used ANC at least once during their most recent pregnancy whereas only 37.4% women received PNC within two weeks of delivery. In the last delivery, 49.8% mothers were assisted by skilled personnel. There was considerable amount of variation in the use of maternal health services at community and district levels. About 40% and 14% of the total variance in the use of ANC, 29% and 8% of the total variance in the use of skilled attendance at delivery and 28% and 8.5% of the total variance in the use of PNC was attributable to differences across communities and districts, respectively. When controlled for individual, community and district level factors, the variances in the use of skilled attendance at delivery attributed to the differences across communities and districts were reduced to 15% and 4.3% respectively. There were only marginal reductions observed in the variance at community and district level for ANC and PNC use. The household socio-economic status and mother's education were the most important factors associated with the use of ANC and skilled attendance at delivery. The community level variable was only significant for ANC and skilled attendance at delivery but not for PNC. None of the district level variables used in this study were found to be influential factors for the use of maternal health services.
We found sufficient amount of variations at community and district of residence on each of the three indicators of the use of maternal health services. For increasing the utilisation of these services in the state, in addition to individual-level, there is a strong need to identify and focus on community and district-level interventions.
Maternal health; antenatal care; skilled attendance at delivery; post natal care; multilevel analysis
The use of maternal health care is limited in India despite several programmatic efforts for its improvement since the late 1980's. The use of maternal health care is typically patterned on socioeconomic and cultural contours. However, there is no clear perspective about how socioeconomic differences over time have contributed towards the use of maternal health care in India.
Using data from three rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted during 1992–2006, we analyse the trends and patterns in utilization of prenatal care (PNC) in first trimester with four or more antenatal care visits and skilled birth attendance (SBA) among poor and nonpoor mothers, disaggregated by area of residence in India and three contrasting provinces, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. In addition, we investigate the relative contribution of public and private health facilities in meeting the demand for SBA, especially among poor mothers. We also examine the role of salient socioeconomic, demographic and cultural factors in influencing aforementioned outcomes. Bivariate analyses, concentration curve and concentration index, logistic regression and multinomial logistic regression models are used to understand the trends, patterns and predictors of the two outcome variables. Results indicate sluggish progress in utilization of PNC and SBA in India and selected provinces during 1992–2006. Enormous inequalities in utilization of PNC and SBA were observed largely to the disadvantage of the poor. Multivariate analysis suggests growing inequalities in utilization of the two outcomes across different economic groups.
The use of PNC and SBA remains disproportionately lower among poor mothers in India irrespective of area of residence and province. Despite several governmental efforts to increase access and coverage of delivery services to poor, it is clear that the poor (a) do not use SBA and (b) even if they had SBA, they were more likely to use the private providers.
Children and women comprise vulnerable populations in terms of health and are gravely affected by the impact of economic inequalities through multi-dimensional channels. Urban areas are believed to have better socioeconomic and maternal and child health indicators than rural areas. This perception leads to the implementation of health policies ignorant of intra-urban health inequalities. Therefore, the objective of this study is to explain the pathways of economic inequalities in maternal and child health indicators among the urban population of India.
Using data from the third wave of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS, 2005–06), this study calculated relative contribution of socioeconomic factors to inequalities in key maternal and child health indicators such as antenatal check-ups (ANCs), institutional deliveries, proportion of children with complete immunization, proportion of underweight children, and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). Along with regular CI estimates, this study applied widely used regression-based Inequality Decomposition model proposed by Wagstaff and colleagues.
The CI estimates show considerable economic inequalities in women with less than 3 ANCs (CI = −0.3501), institutional delivery (CI = −0.3214), children without fully immunization (CI = −0.18340), underweight children (CI = −0.19420), and infant deaths (CI = −0.15596). Results of the decomposition model reveal that illiteracy among women and her partner, poor economic status, and mass media exposure are the critical factors contributing to economic inequalities in maternal and child health indicators. The residuals in all the decomposition models are very less; this implies that the above mentioned factors explained maximum inequalities in maternal and child health of urban population in India.
Findings suggest that illiteracy among women and her partner, poor economic status, and mass media exposure are the critical pathways through which economic factors operate on inequalities in maternal and child health outcomes in urban India.
Women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have yet to benefit from recent advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment now experienced in high-income countries. Their unique sociocultural and health system circumstances warrant a different approach to breast cancer management than that applied to women in high-income countries. Here, we present experience from the last five years working in rural Bangladesh. Case and consecutive series data, focus group and individual interviews, and clinical care experience provide the basis for this paper. These data illustrate a complex web of sociocultural, economic, and health system conditions which affect womens' choices to seek and accept care and successful treatment. We conclude that health system, human rights, and governance issues underlie high mortality from this relatively rare disease in Bangladesh.
Maternity care is all care in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. In the Netherlands maternity care is provided by midwives and general practitioners (GPs) in primary care and midwives and gynecologists in secondary care. To be able to interpret women's experience with the quality of maternity care, it is necessary to take into account their 'care path', that is: their route through the care system.
In the Netherlands a new tool is being developed to evaluate the quality of care from the perspective of clients. The tool is called: 'Consumer Quality Index' or CQI and is, within a standardized and systematic framework, tailored to specific health care issues.
Within the framework of developing a CQI Maternity Care, data were gathered about the care women in the Netherlands received during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. In this paper the quality of maternity care in the Netherlands is presented, as experienced by women at different stages of their care path.
A sample of 1,248 pregnant clients of four insurance companies, with their due date in early April 2007, received a postal survey in the third trimester of pregnancy (response 793). Responders to the first questionnaire received a second questionnaire twelve weeks later, on average four weeks after delivery (response 632). Based on care provider and place of birth the 'care path' of the women is described. With factor analysis and reliability analysis five composite measures indicating the quality of treatment by the care provider at different stages of the care path have been constructed. Overall ratings relate to eight different aspects of care, varying from antenatal care by a midwife or GP to care related to neonatal screening.
41.5 percent of respondents remained in primary care throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and the postpartum period, receiving care from a midwife or general practitioner, 31.3% of respondents gave birth at home. The majority of women (58.5%) experienced referral from one care provider to another, i.e. from primary to secondary care or reverse, at least once. All but two percent of women had one or more ultrasound scans during pregnancy. The composite measures for the quality of treatment in different settings and by different care providers showed that women, regardless of parity, were very positive about the quality of the maternity care they received. Quality-of-treatment scores were high: on average 3.75 on a scale ranging from 1 to 4. Overall ratings on a 0 – 10 scale for quality of care during the antenatal period and during labor, birth and the postpartum period were high as well, on average 8.36.
The care path of women in maternity care was seldom straight forward. The majority of pregnant women switched from primary to secondary care and back at least once, during pregnancy or during labor and birth or both.
The results of the quality measures indicate that the quality of care as experienced by women is high throughout the care system. But with regard to the care during labor and birth the quality of care scores are higher when women know their care provider, when they give birth at home, when they give birth in primary care and when they are assisted by their own midwife.
Despite being a preventable disease, cervical cancer claims the lives of almost half a million women worldwide each year. India bears one-fifth of the global burden of the disease, with approximately 130,000 new cases a year. In an effort to assess the need and potential for improving the quality of cervical cancer prevention and treatment services in Uttar Pradesh, a strategic assessment was conducted in three of the state's districts: Agra, Lucknow, and Saharanpur.
Using an adaptation of stage one of the World Health Organization's Strategic Approach to Improving Reproductive Health Policies and Programmes, an assessment of the quality of cervical cancer services was carried out by a multidisciplinary team of stakeholders. The assessment included a review of the available literature, observations of services, collection of hospital statistics and the conduct of qualitative research (in-depth interviews and focus group discussions) to assess the perspectives of women, providers, policy makers and community members.
There were gaps in provider knowledge and practices, potentially attributable to limited provider training and professional development opportunities. In the absence of a state policy on cervical cancer, screening of asymptomatic women was practically absent, except in the military sector. Cytology-based cancer screening tests (i.e. pap smears) were often used to help diagnose women with symptoms of reproductive tract infections but not routinely screen asymptomatic women. Access to appropriate treatment of precancerous lesions was limited and often inappropriately managed by hysterectomy in many urban centers. Cancer treatment facilities were well equipped but mostly inaccessible for women in need. Finally, policy makers, community members and clients were mostly unaware about cervical cancer and its preventable nature, although with information, expressed a strong interest in having services available to women in their communities.
To address gaps in services and unmet needs, state policies and integrated interventions have the potential to improve the quality of services for prevention of cervical cancer in Uttar Pradesh.
Despite a five decade old Family Welfare programme, India still continues to contribute almost a quarter of the global estimates of maternal morbidity and mortality. Quality aspects in maternal health care have long been ignored in the Indian public health system. It is only with the launch of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) that quality of care has been accorded due recognition at the policy and planning levels of the national health programmes. Using review of available data sources and published literature, this paper aims to examine the scenario of quality of care in maternal health over the last decade and the impact of NRHM initiatives on the same. While NRHM has made efforts to address lacunae associated with quality of maternal care in the public health system, there is much scope for improvement.
A key aim of countries with high maternal mortality rates is to increase availability of competent maternal health care during pregnancy and childbirth. Yet, despite significant investment, countries with the highest burdens have not reduced their rates to the expected levels. We argue, taking Pakistan as a case study, that improving physical availability of services is necessary but not sufficient for reducing maternal mortality because gender inequities interact with caste and poverty to socially exclude certain groups of women from health services that are otherwise physically available.
Using a critical ethnographic approach, two case studies of women who died during childbirth were pieced together from information gathered during the first six months of fieldwork in a village in Northern Punjab, Pakistan.
Shida did not receive the necessary medical care because her heavily indebted family could not afford it. Zainab, a victim of domestic violence, did not receive any medical care because her martial family could not afford it, nor did they think she deserved it. Both women belonged to lower caste households, which are materially poor households and socially constructed as inferior.
The stories of Shida and Zainab illustrate how a rigidly structured caste hierarchy, the gendered devaluing of females, and the reinforced lack of control that many impoverished women experience conspire to keep women from lifesaving health services that are physically available and should be at their disposal.
After more than two decades of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing maternal mortality, women continue to die in childbirth at unacceptably high rates in Pakistan. While an extensive literature describes various programmatic strategies, it neglects the rigorous analysis of the reasons these strategies have been unsuccessful, especially for women living at the economic and social margins of society. A critical gap in current knowledge is a detailed understanding of the root causes of disparities in maternal health care, and in particular, how gender and class influence policy formulation and the design and delivery of maternal health care services. Taking Pakistan as a case study, this research builds upon two distinct yet interlinked conceptual approaches to understanding the phenomenon of inequity in access to maternal health care: social exclusion and health systems as social institutions.
This four year project consists of two interrelated modules that focus on two distinct groups of participants: (1) poor, disadvantaged women and men and (2) policy makers, program managers and health service providers. Module one will employ critical ethnography to understand the key axes of social exclusion as related to gender, class and zaat and how they affect women’s experiences of using maternal health care. Through health care setting observations, interviews and document review, Module two will assess policy design and delivery of maternal health services.
This research will provide theoretical advances to enhance understanding of the power dynamics of gender and class that may underlie poor women’s marginalization from health care systems in Pakistan. It will also provide empirical evidence to support formulation of maternal health care policies and health care system practices aimed at reducing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan. Lastly, it will enhance inter-disciplinary research capacity in the emerging field of social exclusion and maternal health and help reduce social inequities and achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 5.
Social exclusion; Maternal health; Gender; Caste system; Pakistan; Health care system; Class; Health policy; Pregnancy and childbirth; Antenatal care
Maternal mortality and morbidity remains high in many low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) represents an underestimated and unrecognised impediment to optimal maternal health in LMIC; left untreated – it also has severe consequences for the offspring. A better understanding of the barriers hindering detection and treatment of GDM is needed. Based on experiences from World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) supported GDM projects this paper seeks to investigate societal and health system barriers to such efforts.
Questionnaires were filled out by 10 WDF supported GDM project partners implementing projects in eight different LMIC. In addition, interviews were conducted with the project partners. The interviews were analysed using content analysis.
Barriers to improving maternal health related to GDM nominated by project implementers included lack of trained health care providers - especially female doctors; high staff turnover; lack of standard protocols, consumables and equipment; financing of health services and treatment; lack of or poor referral systems, feedback mechanisms and follow-up systems; distance to health facility; perceptions of female body size and weight gain/loss in relation to pregnancy; practices related to pregnant women’s diet; societal negligence of women’s health; lack of decision-making power among women regarding their own health; stigmatisation; role of women in society and expectations that the pregnant woman move to her maternal home for delivery.
A number of barriers within the health system and society exist. Programmes need to consider and address these barriers in order to improve GDM care and thereby maternal health in LMIC.
Gestational diabetes mellitus; Health system; Society; Barriers; Low- and middle-income countries
Hypertensive disorders complicating pregnancy seriously endanger the safety of the mother and
fetus during pregnancy. Very few studies have explored hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in India,
even though this disease has been associated with adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. This
study aimed to analyze the disease pattern and risk factors associated with the disorder and assess
the maternal and fetal outcomes in cases of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
Subjects and methods:
This case-control study was carried out over 1 year from 2011 to 2012 at the Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
A total of 149 patients were enrolled in the study. As seven were lost to follow-up, analysis was
carried out on 142 cases. Patients were further classified according to the National High Blood
Pressure Education Program Working Group (2000) as having mild preeclampsia (65 cases), severe
preeclampsia (32 cases), or eclampsia (45 cases). Thirty-one healthy pregnant non-hypertensive women
were enrolled into the study as controls.
The most common manifestation was edema, seen in 90% of cases. Proteinuria was also
relatively common, 26.76% of patients with proteinuria of ≥300 mg/24 hours,
47.88% with proteinuria of ≥2 g/24 hours, and 25.35% with a urinary protein
excretion of 3–5 g/24 hours. Central nervous system involvement was observed in
42.2% of cases, elevated bilirubin levels in 47.0%, visual symptoms in 6.4%,
vaginal bleeding in 11.3%, and HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet
count) syndrome was reported in 2.80%. Maternal deaths occurred in 2.8% of cases,
all of which were from the eclampsia group. Stillbirths occurred in 16.9% of cases, and
overall neonatal death observed in 4.23% of cases.
Women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were more prone to adverse maternal and fetal
outcomes than normotensive pregnant women, but we observed a decreasing trend in the present study
compared with that reported in other studies, which might be due to the increased number of hospital
deliveries that occurred in our study.
HELLP syndrome; acute renal failure; maternal outcome; neonatal outcome
A primary cause of high maternal mortality in Bangladesh is lack of access to professional delivery care. Examining the role of the family, particularly the husband, during pregnancy and childbirth is important to understanding women's access to and utilization of professional maternal health services that can prevent maternal mortality. This qualitative study examines husbands' involvement during childbirth and professional delivery care utilization in a rural sub-district of Netrokona district, Bangladesh.
Using purposive sampling, ten households utilizing a skilled attendant during the birth of the youngest child were selected and matched with ten households utilizing an untrained traditional birth attendant, or dhatri. Households were selected based on a set of inclusion criteria, such as approximate household income, ethnicity, and distance to the nearest hospital. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted in Bangla with husbands in these households in June 2010. Interviews were transcribed, translated into English, and analyzed using NVivo 9.0.
By purposefully selecting households that differed on the type of provider utilized during delivery, common themes--high costs, poor transportation, and long distances to health facilities--were eliminated as sufficient barriers to the utilization of professional delivery care. Divergent themes, namely husbands' social support and perceived social norms, were identified as underlying factors associated with delivery care utilization. We found that husbands whose wives utilized professional delivery care provided emotional, instrumental and informational support to their wives during delivery and believed that medical intervention was necessary. By contrast, husbands whose wives utilized an untrained dhatri at home were uninvolved during delivery and believed childbirth should take place at home according to local traditions.
This study provides novel evidence about male involvement during childbirth in rural Bangladesh. These findings have important implications for program planners, who should pursue culturally sensitive ways to involve husbands in maternal health interventions and assess the effectiveness of education strategies targeted at husbands.