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.
Pakistan is one of the six countries estimated to contribute to over half of all maternal deaths worldwide. To address its high maternal mortality rate, in particular the inequities in access to maternal health care services, the government of Pakistan created a new cadre of community-based midwives (CMW). A key expectation is that the CMWs will improve access to skilled antenatal and intra-partum care for the poor and disadvantaged women. A critical gap in our knowledge is whether this cadre of workers, operating in the private health care context, will meet the expectation to provide care to the poorest and most marginalized women. There is an inherent paradox between the notions of fee-for-service and increasing access to health care for the poorest who, by definition, are unable to pay.
Data will be collected in three interlinked modules. Module 1 will consist of a population-based survey in the catchment areas of the CMW’s in districts Jhelum and Layyah in Punjab. Proportions of socially excluded women who are served by CMWs and their satisfaction levels with their maternity care provider will be assessed. Module 2 will explore, using an institutional ethnographic approach, the challenges (organizational, social, financial) that CMWs face in providing care to the poor and socially marginalized women. Module 3 will identify the social, financial, geographical and other barriers to uncover the hidden forces and power relations that shape the choices and opportunities of poor and marginalized women in accessing CMW services. An extensive knowledge dissemination plan will facilitate uptake of research findings to inform positive developments in maternal health policy, service design and care delivery in Pakistan.
The findings of this study will enhance understanding of the power dynamics of gender and class that may underlie poor women’s marginalization from health care systems, including community midwifery care. One key outcome will be an increased sensitization of the special needs of socially excluded women, an otherwise invisible group. Another expectation is that the poor, socially excluded women will be targeted for provision of maternity care. The research will support the achievement of the 5th Millennium Development Goal in Pakistan.
Pregnancy and childbirth; Pakistan; Maternal health care; Skilled birth attendance; Community-based Midwives; Social exclusion; Inequity; Poverty; Gender; Class
Since the 1980s, maternal and child health experts have sought to redefine maternity care to include the period prior to pregnancy, essentially by expanding the concept of prenatal care to encompass the time before conception. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed and promoted this new definition when it launched the Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative. In arguing that prenatal care was often too little too late, a group of maternal and child health experts in the United States attempted to spur improvements in population health and address systemic problems in health care access and health disparities. By changing the terms of pregnancy risk and by using maternalism as a social policy strategy, the preconception health and health care paradigm promoted an ethic of anticipatory motherhood and conflated women’s health with maternal health, sparking public debate about the potential social and clinical consequences of preconception care. This article tracks the construction of this policy idea and its ultimate potential utility in health and health policy discussions.
Pakistan has high maternal mortality, particularly in the rural areas. The delay in decision making to seek medical care during obstetric emergencies remains a significant factor in maternal mortality.
We present results from an experimental study in rural Pakistan. Village clusters were randomly assigned to intervention and control arms (16 clusters each). In the intervention clusters, women were provided information on safe motherhood through pictorial booklets and audiocassettes; traditional birth attendants were trained in clean delivery and recognition of obstetric and newborn complications; and emergency transportation systems were set up. In eight of the 16 intervention clusters, husbands also received specially designed education materials on safe motherhood and family planning. Pre- and post-intervention surveys on selected maternal and neonatal health indicators were conducted in all 32 clusters. A district-wide survey was conducted two years after project completion to measure any residual impact of the interventions.
Pregnant women in intervention clusters received prenatal care and prophylactic iron therapy more frequently than pregnant women in control clusters. Providing safe motherhood education to husbands resulted in further improvement of some indicators. There was a small but significant increase in percent of hospital deliveries but no impact on the use of skilled birth attendants. Perinatal mortality reduced significantly in clusters where only wives received information and education in safe motherhood. The survey to assess residual impact showed similar results.
We conclude that providing safe motherhood education increased the probability of pregnant women having prenatal care and utilization of health services for obstetric complications.
Two decades after the launch of the Safe Motherhood campaign, India still accounts for at least a quarter of maternal death globally. Gujarat is one of the most economically developed states of India, but progress in the social sector has not been commensurate with economic growth. The purpose of this study was to use district-level data to gain a better understanding of equity in access to maternal health care and to draw the attention of the policy planers to monitor equity in maternal care.
Secondary data analyses were performed among 7,534 ever-married women who delivered since January 2004 in the District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-3) carried out during 2007–2008 in Gujarat, India. Based on the conceptual framework designed by the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, associations were assessed between three outcomes – Institutional delivery, antenatal care (ANC), and use of modern contraception – and selected intermediary and structural determinants of health using multiple logistic regression.
Inequities in maternal health care utilization persist in Gujarat. Structural determinants like caste group, wealth, and education were all significantly associated with access to the minimum three antenatal care visits, institutional deliveries, and use of any modern method of contraceptive. There is a significant relationship between being poor and access to less utilization of ANC services independent of caste category or residence.
Discussion and conclusions
Poverty is the most important determinant of non-use of maternal health services in Gujarat. In addition, social position (i.e. caste) has a strong independent effect on maternal health service use. More focused and targeted efforts towards these disadvantaged groups needs to be taken at policy level in order to achieve targets and goals laid out as per the MDGs. In particular, the Government of Gujarat should invest more in basic education and infrastructural development to begin to remove the structural causes of non-use of maternal health services.
maternal health; health care utilization; inequity; antenatal care; skilled birth attendance; Gujarat
Early involvement of fathers with their children has increased in recent times and this is associated with improved cognitive and socio-emotional development of children. Research in the area of father’s engagement with pregnancy and childbirth has mainly focused on white middle-class men and has been mostly qualitative in design. Thus, the aim of this study was to understand who was engaged during pregnancy and childbirth, in what way, and how paternal engagement may influence a woman’s uptake of services, her perceptions of care, and maternal outcomes.
This study involved secondary analysis of data on 4616 women collected in a 2010 national maternity survey of England asking about their experiences of maternity care, health and well-being up to three months after childbirth, and their partners’ engagement in pregnancy, labour and postnatally. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, chi-square, binary logistic regression and generalised linear modelling.
Over 80% of fathers were ‘pleased or ‘overjoyed’ in response to their partner’s pregnancy, over half were present for the pregnancy test, for one or more antenatal checks, and almost all were present for ultrasound examinations and for labour. Three-quarters of fathers took paternity leave and, during the postnatal period, most fathers helped with infant care. Paternal engagement was highest in partners of primiparous white women, those living in less deprived areas, and in those whose pregnancy was planned. Greater paternal engagement was positively associated with first contact with health professionals before 12 weeks gestation, having a dating scan, number of antenatal checks, offer and attendance at antenatal classes, and breastfeeding. Paternity leave was also strongly associated with maternal well-being at three months postpartum.
This study demonstrates the considerable sociodemographic variation in partner support and engagement. It is important that health professionals recognise that women in some sociodemographic groups may be less supported by their partner and more reliant on staff and that this may have implications for how women access care.
Fathers; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Paternal engagement
In Pakistan, where gendered norms restrict women's mobility, female community health workers (CHWs) provide doorstep primary health services to home-bound women. The program has not achieved optimal functioning. One reason, I argue, may be that the CHWs are unable to make home visits because they have to operate within the same gender system that necessitated their appointment in the first place. Ethnographic research shows that women’s mobility in Pakistan is determined not so much by physical geography as by social geography (the analysis of social phenomena in space). Irrespective of physical location, the presence of biradaria members (extended family) creates a socially acceptable ‘inside space’ to which women are limited. The presence of a non-biradari person, especially a man, transforms any space into an ‘outside space’, forbidden space. This study aims to understand how these cultural norms affect CHWs’ home-visit rates and the quality of services delivered.
Data will be collected in district Attock, Punjab. Twenty randomly selected CHWs will first be interviewed to explore their experiences of delivering doorstep services in the context of gendered norms that promote women's seclusion. Each CHW will be requested to draw a map of her catchment area using social mapping techniques. These maps will be used to survey women of reproductive age to assess variations in the CHW's home visitation rates and quality of family planning services provided. A sample size of 760 households (38 per CHW) is estimated to have the power to detect, with 95% confidence, households the CHWs do not visit. To explore the role of the larger community in shaping the CHWs mobility experiences, 25 community members will be interviewed and five CHWs observed as they conduct their home visits. The survey data will be merged with the maps to demonstrate if any disjunctures exist between CHWs’ social geography and physical geography. Furthermore, the impacts these geographies have on home visitation rates and quality of services delivered will be explored.
The study will provide generic and theoretical insights into how the CHW program policies and operations can improve working conditions to facilitate the work of female staff in order to ultimately provide high-quality services.
Reproductive health services; Primary health care services; Pakistan; Family planning; Community health workers; Lady health worker; Gender; Women’s mobility; Social geography; Mixed methods
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
In 2000, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set targets for reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by 2015.
To evaluate the results of a new education and referral system for antenatal/intrapartum care as a strategy to reduce the rates of Cesarean sections (C-sections) and maternal/perinatal mortality.
Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Botucatu Medical School, Sao Paulo State University/UNESP, Brazil. Population: 27,387 delivering women and 27,827 offspring. Data collection: maternal and perinatal data between 1995 and 2006 at the major level III and level II hospitals in Botucatu, Brazil following initiation of a safe motherhood education and referral system. Main outcome measures: Yearly rates of C-sections, maternal (/100,000 LB) and perinatal (/1000 births) mortality rates at both hospitals. Data analysis: Simple linear regression models were adjusted to estimate the referral system's annual effects on the total number of deliveries, C-section and perinatal mortality ratios in the two hospitals. The linear regression were assessed by residual analysis (Shapiro-Wilk test) and the influence of possible conflicting observations was evaluated by a diagnostic test (Leverage), with p < 0.05.
Over the time period evaluated, the overall C-section rate was 37.3%, there were 30 maternal deaths (maternal mortality ratio = 109.5/100,000 LB) and 660 perinatal deaths (perinatal mortality rate = 23.7/1000 births). The C-section rate decreased from 46.5% to 23.4% at the level II hospital while remaining unchanged at the level III hospital. The perinatal mortality rate decreased from 9.71 to 1.66/1000 births and from 60.8 to 39.6/1000 births at the level II and level III hospital, respectively. Maternal mortality ratios were 16.3/100,000 LB and 185.1/100,000 LB at the level II and level III hospitals. There was a shift from direct to indirect causes of maternal mortality.
This safe motherhood referral system was a good strategy in reducing perinatal mortality and direct causes of maternal mortality and decreasing the overall rate of C-sections.
Referral system; antenatal/intrapartum care; cesarean section; perinatal mortality
Each year, 287,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, and 3.8 million newborns die before reaching 28 days of life. The near totality (99%) of maternal and neonatal deaths occurs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Utilization of essential obstetric care services including postnatal care (PNC) largely contributes to the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. There is a strong need to evaluate the evidence on the unmet needs in utilization of PNC services to inform health policy planning. Our objective is to assess systematically the socioeconomic, geographic and demographic inequalities in the use of PNC interventions in low- and middle-income countries.
The current protocol adopts a strategy informed by the guidelines of The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews. Our systematic review will identify studies in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese – provided inclusion of an English abstract - from 1960 onwards, by searching MEDLINE (PubMed interface), EMBASE (OVID interface), Cochrane Central (OVID interface) and the gray literature. Study selection criteria include research setting, study design, reported outcomes and determinants of interest. Our primary outcome is the utilization of PNC services, and determinants of concern are: 1) socioeconomic status (for example, income, education); 2) geographic determinants (for example, distance to a health center, rural versus urban residence); and 3) demographic determinants (for example, ethnicity, immigration status). Screening, data abstraction, and scientific quality assessment will be conducted independently by two reviewers using standardized forms. Where feasible, study results will be combined through meta-analyses to obtain a pooled measure of association between utilization of PNC services and key determinants. Results will be stratified by countries’ income levels (World Bank classification).
Our review will inform policy-making with the aim of decreasing inequalities in utilization of PNC services. This research will provide evidence on unmet needs for PNC services in LMICs, knowledge gaps and recommendations to health policy planners. Our research will help promote universal coverage of quality PNC services as an integral part of the continuum of maternal and child health care. This protocol was registered with the Prospero database (registration number: CRD42013004661).
Postnatal care; Health services utilization; Maternal health; Low- and middle-income countries; Inequalities; Systematic review; Protocol
The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Pakistan is estimated at 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Prevalence of minor and major illnesses related with pregnancy and childbirth is much higher. However, most births in the rural areas take place at home, conducted by untrained traditional birth attendants. Data on the prevalence of maternal morbidity is, therefore, limited. Self-reporting of illnesses related with pregnancy and childbirth is generally considered as unreliable, as women’s perception of the seriousness of the health problems is inadequate.
The data were collected in a baseline survey that was conducted for an operations research project of the Ministry of Health, Government of Pakistan. The baseline survey comprised interviews with the ever-married women in the reproductive ages (15–49 years). For the selection of eligible women for the interview, a two-staged cluster random sampling procedure was applied. The response rate was 94.4% and interviews with 9,118 of the identified 9,655 females were successfully completed. The interviews were conducted by female interviewers having graduate degree or above. Completed questionnaires were edited and coded by a team of professional data editors.
The prevalence of maternal morbidity in this study was 20%, which is considered to be high, although can be expected in this population. Nearly half of the women reported some kind of illness during pregnancy, which is also expected. This study also estimated that the unmet obstetric need among rural women was very high; this finding has policy implication, as the need for alternative and more operational indicators of maternal health is increasingly felt.
It is recommended that population-based studies and national surveys routinely incorporate well designed questions to elicit information on self-reported maternal morbidity; the same studies can also be used to identify the determinants of common obstetric problems and to estimate the unmet need of obstetric care.
Wide disparities in obstetrical outcomes exist between women of different race/ethnicities. The prevalence of preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, fetal demise, maternal mortality and inadequate receipt of prenatal care all vary by maternal race/ethnicity. These disparities have their roots in maternal health behaviors, genetics, the physical and social environments, and access to and quality of health care. Elimination of the health inequities due to sociocultural differences or access to or quality of health care will require a multidisciplinary approach. We aim to describe these obstetrical disparities, with an eye towards potential etiologies, thereby improving our ability to target appropriate solutions.
disparities; maternal mortality; obstetrical care; preterm birth; race/ethnicity
Every year an estimated three million neonates die globally and two hundred thousand of these deaths occur in Pakistan. Majority of these neonates die in rural areas of underdeveloped countries from preventable causes (infections, complications related to low birth weight and prematurity). Similarly about three hundred thousand mother died in 2010 and Pakistan is among ten countries where sixty percent burden of these deaths is concentrated. Maternal and neonatal mortality remain to be unacceptably high in Pakistan especially in rural areas where more than half of births occur.
This community based cluster randomized controlled trial will evaluate the impact of an Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) package in the intervention arm compared to standard of care in control arm. Perinatal and neonatal mortality are primary outcome measure for this trial. The trial will be implemented in 20 clusters (Union councils) of District Rahimyar Khan, Pakistan. The EmONC package consists of provision of maternal and neonatal health pack (clean delivery kit, emollient, chlorhexidine) for safe motherhood and newborn wellbeing and training of community level and facility based health care providers with emphasis on referral of complicated cases to nearest public health facilities and community mobilization.
Even though there is substantial evidence in support of effectiveness of various health interventions for improving maternal, neonatal and child health. Reduction in perinatal and neonatal mortality remains a big challenge in resource constrained and diverse countries like Pakistan and achieving MDG 4 and 5 appears to be a distant reality. A comprehensive package of community based low cost interventions along the continuum of care tailored according to the socio cultural environment coupled with existing health force capacity building may result in improving the maternal and neonatal outcomes.
The findings of this proposed community based trial will provide sufficient evidence on feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness to the policy makers for replicating and scaling up the interventions within the health system
Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC); Perinatal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Reproductive health; Child health; Pakistan
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals look to substantial improvements in child and maternal survival. Morbidity and mortality during pregnancy, delivery and the postnatal period are prime obstacles to achieving these goals. Given the increasing importance of urban health to global prospects, Mumbai's City Initiative for Newborn Health aims to improve maternal and neonatal health in vulnerable urban slum communities, through a combination of health service quality improvement and community participation. The protocol describes a trial of community intervention aimed at improving prevention, care seeking and outcomes.
To test an intervention that supports local women as facilitators in mobilising communities for better health care. Community women's groups will build an understanding of their potential to improve maternal and infant health, and develop and implement strategies to do so.
Cluster-randomized controlled trial.
The intervention will employ local community-based female facilitators to convene groups and help them to explore maternal and neonatal health issues. Groups will meet fortnightly through a seven-phase process of sharing experiences, discussion of the issues raised, discovery of potential community strengths, building of a vision for action, design and implementation of community strategies, and evaluation.
The unit of allocation will be an urban slum cluster of 1000–1500 households. 48 clusters have been randomly selected after stratification by ward. 24 clusters have been randomly allocated to receive the community intervention. 24 clusters will act as control groups, but will benefit from health service quality improvement. Indicators of effect will be measured through a surveillance system implemented by the project. Key distal outcome indicators will be neonatal mortality and maternal and neonatal morbidity. Key proximate outcome indicators will be home care practices, uptake of antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, and care for maternal and neonatal illness.
Data will be collected through a vital registration system for births and deaths in the 48 study clusters. Structured interviews with families will be conducted at about 6 weeks after index deliveries. We will also collect both quantitative and qualitative data to support a process evaluation.
Current controlled trials ISRCTN96256793
Individual and community health are adversely impacted by disparities in health outcomes among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. Understanding the underlying causes for variations in health outcomes is an essential step towards developing effective interventions to ameliorate inequalities and subsequently improve overall community health. Working at the neighborhood scale, this study examines multiple social determinates that can cause health disparities including low neighborhood wealth, weak social networks, inadequate public infrastructure, the presence of hazardous materials in or near a neighborhood, and the lack of access to primary care services. The goal of this research is to develop innovative and replicable strategies to improve community health in disadvantaged communities such as newly arrived Hispanic immigrants.
This project is taking place within a primary care practice-based research network (PBRN) using key principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR). Associations between social determinants and rates of hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) use, and ED use for primary care treatable or preventable conditions are being examined. Geospatial models are in development using both hospital and community level data to identify local areas where interventions to improve disparities would have the greatest impact. The developed associations between social determinants and health outcomes as well as the geospatial models will be validated using community surveys and qualitative methods. A rapidly growing and underserved Hispanic immigrant population will be the target of an intervention informed by the research process to impact utilization of primary care services and designed, deployed, and evaluated using the geospatial tools and qualitative research findings. The purpose of this intervention will be to reduce health disparities by improving access to, and utilization of, primary care and preventative services.
The results of this study will demonstrate the importance of several novel approaches to ameliorating health disparities, including the use of CBPR, the effectiveness of community-based interventions to influence health outcomes by leveraging social networks, and the importance of primary care access in ameliorating health disparities.
Social determinants of health; Community-based participatory research; Geospatial models; Hispanic
Though improvements in infant and maternal mortality rates have occurred over time, women and children still die every hour from preventable causes. Various regional, social and economic factors are involved in the ability of women and children to receive adequate care and prevention services. Patient-held maternal and/or child health records have been used for a number of years in many countries to help track health risks, vaccinations and other preventative health measures performed. Though these records are primarily designed to record patient histories and healthcare information and guide healthcare workers providing care, because the records are patient-held, they also allow families a greater ability to track their own health and prevention strategies.
A literature search was performed to answer these questions: (1) What are maternal information needs regarding pregnancy, post-natal and infant healthcare, especially in developing countries? (2) What is known about maternal information seeking behavior in developing countries? (3) What is the history and current state of maternal and/or child patient-held healthcare records, do they provide for the information needs of the healthcare provider and what are the effects and outcomes of patient-held records in general and for maternal and/or child health in particular?
Specific information needs of pregnant women and mothers are rarely studied. The small numbers of maternal information behavior results available indicate that mothers, in general, prefer to receive health information directly from their healthcare provider as opposed to from other sources (written, etc.) Overall, in developing countries, patient-held maternal and/or child healthcare records have a mostly positive effect for both patient and care provider. Mothers and children with records tend to have better outcomes in healthcare and preventative measures. Further research into the information behaviors of pregnant women and mothers to determine the extent of reliance on interpersonal information seeking is recommended before expending significant resources on enhanced patient-held maternal and/or child healthcare records including storage on mobile devices. In particular, research is needed to explore the utility of providing targeted health messages to mothers regarding their own health and that of their children; this might best be accomplished through mobile technologies.
Child Health Services; Developing Countries; Information Seeking Behavior; Maternal Health Services; Medical Records
The attainment of the fifth Millennium Development Goal requires adequate national reserves of skilled birth attendants. Nurses, midwives, and their equivalents form the frontline of the formal health system are a critical element of global efforts to reduce ill-health and poverty in the poorest areas of the world. Planning and policies supporting these cadres of workers must be placed high on the development agenda and championed by key international and national players. This article first sets forth an argument for the equity and efficiency of nurses, midwives, and their equivalents as the cadre largely responsible for maternal health. Second, it traces the root causes of neglect of this critical cadre, including a vacuum in political will in the context of poverty, lack of protections for frontline workers, the historical political position of the field of midwifery, lack of a pipeline of secondary school graduates, and gender inequity. Investment in the largely female cadre that cares for the majority of the world’s poorer women has simply not been a high enough priority. Key policy recommendations include harnessing political will and adequate metrics, protection of frontline workers’ safety and livelihoods, ensuring an adequate pipeline with a focus on girls’ education and donor support for training and professional organizations. The fifth and final policy recommendation is a call for unified international support of rapid scale-up of cadres of delivery care workers.
Preventable maternal mortality and morbidity have been globally recognized as human rights issues. Maternal mortality in India is among the highest in the world, and reflects inequity in access to healthcare: women from certain states as well as poorer women and less literate women appear to be significantly disadvantaged. The government of India has been attempting to improve maternal outcomes through a cash transfer within the National Rural Health Mission to encourage women to come to hospitals for childbirth.
This paper reviews documents of the last ten years describing the experiences of a Non-Governmental Organisation, SAHAYOG, in working with a civil society platform, the Healthwatch Forum, to develop ‘rights based’ strategies around maternal health. The paper builds an analysis using recent frameworks on accountability and gendered rights claiming to examine these experiences and draw out lessons regarding rights claiming strategies for poor women.
The examination of documents over the last ten years indicates defined phases of development in the evolution of SAHAYOG’s understanding and of the shifts in strategy among SAHAYOG and its close allies, and responses by the state. The first three stages depict the deepening of SAHAYOG’s understanding of the manner in which poor and marginalized women negotiate their access to health care; the fourth stage explores a health system intervention and the challenges of working from within civil society in alliance with poor and marginalized women.
The findings from SAHAYOG’s experiences with poor Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh reveal the elements of social exclusion within the health system that prevent poor and marginalized women from accessing effective lifesaving care. Creating a voice for the most marginalised and carving space for its articulation impacts upon the institutions and actors that have a duty to meet the claims being made. However, given the accountability deficit, the analysis indicates the importance of going beyond the normative to developing actor-oriented perspectives within rights based approaches, to take into account the complexity of the negotiating process that goes into claiming any kind of entitlements.
Demand-side financing projects are now being implemented in many developing countries, yet evidence showing that they reach the poor is scanty.
A maternal health voucher scheme provided voucher-paid services in Jhang, a predominantly rural district of Pakistan, during 2010. A pre-test/post-test quasi-experimental design was used to assess the changes in the proportion of facility-based deliveries and related maternal health services among the poor. Household interviews were conducted with randomly selected women in the intervention and control union councils, before and after the intervention.
A strong outreach model was used. Voucher promoters were given basic training in identification of poor women using the Poverty Scorecard for Pakistan, in the types of problems women could face during delivery, and in the promotion of antenatal care (ANC), institutional delivery and postnatal care (PNC). Voucher booklets valued at Rs. 4,000 ($48), including three ANC visits, a PNC visit, an institutional delivery, and a postnatal family planning visit, were sold for Rs. 100 ($1.2) to low-income women targeted by project outreach workers. Women suffering from complications were referred to emergency obstetric care services.
Analysis was conducted at the bivariate and the multivariate levels. At the multivariate level, logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine whether the increase in institutional delivery was greater among poor women (defined for this study as women in the fourth or fifth quintiles) relative to non-poor women (defined for this study as women in the first quintile) in the intervention union councils compared to the control union councils.
Bivariate analysis showed significant increases in the institutional delivery rate among women in the fourth or fifth wealth quintiles in the intervention union councils but no significant changes in this indicator among women in the same wealth quintiles in the control union councils. Multivariate analysis showed that the increase in institutional delivery among poor women relative to non-poor women was significantly greater in the intervention compared to the control union councils.
Demand-side financing projects using vouchers can be an effective way of reducing inequities in institutional delivery.
The main challenge for achieving universal health coverage in India is ensuring effective coverage of poor and vulnerable communities in the face of high levels of income and gender inequity in access to health care. Drawing on the social capital generated through women’s participation in community organizations like SHGs can influence health outcomes. To date, evidence about the impact of SHGs on health outcomes has been derived from pilot-level interventions, some using randomised controlled trials and other rigorous methods. While the evidence from these studies is convincing, our study is the first to analyse the impact of SHGs at national level.
We analyzed the entire dataset from the third national District Level Household Survey from 601 districts in India to assess the impact of the presence of SHGs on maternal health service uptake. The primary predictor variable was presence of a SHG in the village. The outcome variables were: institutional delivery; feeding new-borns colostrum; knowledge about family planning methods; and ever used family planning. We controlled for respondent education, wealth, heard or seen health messages, availability of health facilities and the existence of a village health and sanitation committee.
Stepwise logistic regression shows respondents from villages with a SHG were 19 per cent (OR: 1.19, CI: 1.13-1.24) more likely to have delivered in an institution, 8 per cent (OR: 1.08, CI: 1.05-1.14) more likely to have fed newborns colostrum, have knowledge (OR: 1.48, CI 1.39 – 1.57) and utilized (OR: 1.19, CI 1.11 – 1.27) family planning products and services. These results are significant after controlling for individual and village-level heterogeneities and are consistent with existing literature that the social capital generated through women’s participation in SHGs influences health outcome.
The study concludes that the presence of SHGs in a village is associated with higher knowledge of family planning and maternal health service uptake in rural India. To achieve the goal of improving public health nationally, there is a need to understand more fully the benefits of systematic collaboration between the public health community and these grassroots organizations.
Self help group; Institutional delivery; Family planning; Barriers; India
OBJECTIVE--To study associations between characteristics of families during the first pregnancy and after childbirth and the development of infantile colic. DESIGN--Randomised, stratified cluster sampling. Follow up from the first visit to a maternity health care clinic during pregnancy to three months after birth with confidential semistructured questionnaires. SETTING--Maternity health care clinics in primary health care centres in Finland. SUBJECTS--1443 nulliparous women and 1407 partners. Altogether 1333 women and 1279 men returned the questionnaires. When the infants were 3 months old 1208 women and 1115 men returned questionnaires. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Marital relationship; personal and social behaviour of parents during the pregnancy and their coping with the pregnancy; mothers' physical health and events, symptoms, and experiences in relation to pregnancy; self confidence and experiences of mothers and fathers in relation to childbirth; and parents' sociodemographic and educational variables. Measure of colic when the infant was 3 months old. RESULTS--Experience of stress and physical symptoms during the pregnancy, dissatisfaction with the sexual relationship, and negative experiences during childbirth were associated with the development of colic in the baby. None of the sociodemographic factors was associated with colic. CONCLUSIONS--Early preventive health work during pregnancy should attempt to improve parents' tolerance of symptoms of stress and ability to cope and increase their confidence in parenting abilities.
Disparities in perinatal health care occur worldwide. If the UN Millennium Development Goals in maternal and child health are to be met, this needs to be addressed. This study was conducted to facilitate our understanding of the changing use of maternity care services in a semi-urban community in Entebbe Uganda and to examine the range of antenatal and delivery services received in health care facilities and at home.
We conducted a retrospective community survey among women using structured questionnaires to describe the use of antenatal services and delivery care.
In total 413 women reported on their most recent pregnancy. Antenatal care attendance was high with 96% attending once, and 69% the recommended four times. Blood pressure monitoring (95%) and tetanus vaccination (91%) were the services most frequently reported and HIV testing (47%), haematinics (58%) and presumptive treatment for malaria (66%) least frequently. Hospital clinics significantly outperformed public clinics in the quality of antenatal service. A significant improvement in the reported quality of antenatal services received was observed by year (p < 0.001). Improvement in the range and consistency of services at Entebbe Hospital over time was associated with an increase in the numbers who sought care there (p = 0.038). Although 63% delivered their newborn at a local hospital, 11% still delivered at home with no skilled assistance and just under half of these women reported financial/transportation difficulties as the primary reason. Less educated, poorer mothers were more likely to have unskilled/no assistance. Simple newborn care practices were commonly neglected. Only 35% of newborns were breastfed within the first hour and delayed wrapping of newborn infants occurred after 27% of deliveries.
Although antenatal services were well utilised, the quality of services varied. Women were able and willing to travel to a facility providing a good service. Access to essential skilled birth attendants remains difficult especially for less educated, poorer women, commonly mediated by financial and transport difficulties and several simple post delivery practices were commonly neglected. These factors need to be addressed to ensure that high quality care reaches the most vulnerable women and infants.
More than 450 newborns die every hour worldwide, before they reach the age of four weeks (neonatal period) and over 500,000 women die from complications related to childbirth. The major direct causes of neonatal death are infections (36%), Prematurity (28%) and Asphyxia (23%). Pakistan has one of the highest perinatal and neonatal mortality rates in the region and contributes significantly to global neonatal mortality. The high mortality rates are partially attributable to scarcity of trained skilled birth attendants and paucity of resources. Empowerment of health care providers with adequate knowledge and skills can serve as instrument of change.
We carried out training needs assessment analysis in the public health sector of Pakistan to recognize gaps in the processes and quality of MNCH care provided. An assessment of Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices of Health Care Providers on key aspects was evaluated through a standardized pragmatic approach. Meticulously designed tools were tested on three tiers of health care personnel providing MNCH in the community and across the public health care system. The Lady Health Workers (LHWs) form the first tier of trained cadre that provides MNCH at primary care level (BHU) and in the community. The Lady Health Visitor (LHVs), Nurses, midwives) cadre follow next and provide facility based MNCH care at secondary and tertiary level (RHCs, Taluka/Tehsil, and DHQ Hospitals). The physician/doctor is the specialized cadre that forms the third tier of health care providers positioned in secondary and tertiary care hospitals (Taluka/Tehsil and DHQ Hospitals). The evaluation tools were designed to provide quantitative estimates across various domains of knowledge and skills. A priori thresholds were established for performance rating.
The performance of LHWs in knowledge of MNCH was good with 30% scoring more than 70%. The Medical officers (MOs), in comparison, performed poorly in their knowledge of MNCH with only 6% scoring more than 70%. All three cadres of health care providers performed poorly in the resuscitation skill and only 50% were able to demonstrate steps of immediate newborn care. The MOs performed far better in counselling skills compare to the LHWs. Only 50 per cent of LHWs could secure competency scale in this critical component of skills assessment.
All three cadres of health care providers performed well below competency levels for MNCH knowledge and skills. Standardized training and counselling modules, tailored to the needs and resources at district level need to be developed and implemented. This evaluation highlighted the need for periodic assessment of health worker training and skills to address gaps and develop targeted continuing education modules. To achieve MDG4 and 5 goals, it is imperative that such deficiencies are identified and addressed.
Maternal and infant mortality rates in the district of Chitral in Pakistan are alarmingly high. One of the major reasons for this is the inability of women to access skilled care due to the high costs associated with traveling and utilizing such services. The Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan (AKHSP) in partnership with the national and provincial Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) program, deployed 28 community midwives (CMWs) in remote villages of Chitral district. This program has also established Community-Based Savings Groups (CBSGs) to support and facilitate access to MNCH services, in particular those delivered by the CMWs. CBSGs are a simple yet cost-effective and sustainable means of providing basic financial services to low income, marginalized, rural populations.
The link between CBSGs and utilization of MNCH services is not well understood. This study will assess the relationship between women membership of CBSGs and their utilization of MNCH services, specifically those offered by CMWs, in the community.
The research question will be answered through guided interviews of women in the target population who have delivered within one month. The outcome variable will be the utilization of full continuum of skilled MNCH care (disaggregated by 1+ ANC, 1+ PNC and skilled delivery). The primary independent variable of interest will be participation in a CBSG.
Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) will be conducted to generate further understanding and information about the social and financial factors that contribute to health behavior and health provider decision-making during pregnancy.
Analysis will be tailored to answer how CBSGs, directly or indirectly, facilitate greater financial and/or social access to CMW services for pregnant women. Furthermore, the extent to which financial or social empowerment through a CBSG leads to greater utilization of CMW services.
The role of CBSGs and their interlink with the CMWs services to be replicated in other comparable areas in Pakistan as a viable mean to increase MNCH service utilization amongst rural, low income, and marginalized communities. Findings from this research will be disseminated through community, national, and international channels consisting of policy makers and social society groups.
Community based savings groups; Community midwives; Maternal Neonatal and Child Health
Approximately one-third of a million women die each year from pregnancy-related conditions. Three-quarters of these deaths are considered avoidable. Millennium Development Goal five calls for a reduction in maternal mortality and the establishment of universal access to high quality reproductive health care. There is evidence of a relationship between lower levels of maternal education and higher maternal mortality. This study examines the relationship between maternal education and maternal mortality among women giving birth in health care institutions and investigates the association of maternal age, marital status, parity, institutional capacity and state-level investment in health care with these relationships.
Cross-sectional information was collected on 287,035 inpatients giving birth in 373 health care institutions in 24 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, between 2004-2005 (in Africa and Latin America) and 2007-2008 (in Asia) as part of the WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health. Analyses investigated associations between indicators measured at the individual, institutional and country level and maternal mortality during the intrapartum period: from admission to, until discharge from, the institution where women gave birth. There were 363 maternal deaths.
In the adjusted models, women with no education had 2.7 times and those with between one and six years of education had twice the risk of maternal mortality of women with more than 12 years of education. Institutional capacity was not associated with maternal mortality in the adjusted model. Those not married or cohabiting had almost twice the risk of death of those who were. There was a significantly higher risk of death among those aged over 35 (compared with those aged between 20 and 25 years), those with higher numbers of previous births and lower levels of state investment in health care. There were also additional effects relating to country of residence which were not explained in the model.
Lower levels of maternal education were associated with higher maternal mortality even amongst women able to access facilities providing intrapartum care. More attention should be given to the wider social determinants of health when devising strategies to reduce maternal mortality and to achieve the increasingly elusive MDG for maternal mortality.