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      Economic Status, Education and Empowerment: Implications for Maternal Health Service Utilization in Developing Countries

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      PLoS ONE

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          Background

          Relative to the attention given to improving the quality of and access to maternal health services, the influence of women's socio-economic situation on maternal health care use has received scant attention. The objective of this paper is to examine the relationship between women's economic, educational and empowerment status, introduced as the 3Es, and maternal health service utilization in developing countries.

          Methods/Principal Findings

          The analysis uses data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 31 countries for which data on all the 3Es are available. Separate logistic regression models are fitted for modern contraceptive use, antenatal care and skilled birth attendance in relation to the three covariates of interest: economic, education and empowerment status, additionally controlling for women's age and residence. We use meta-analysis techniques to combine and summarize results from multiple countries. The 3Es are significantly associated with utilization of maternal health services. The odds of having a skilled attendant at delivery for women in the poorest wealth quintile are 94% lower than that for women in the highest wealth quintile and almost 5 times higher for women with complete primary education relative to those less educated. The likelihood of using modern contraception and attending four or more antenatal care visits are 2.01 and 2.89 times, respectively, higher for women with complete primary education than for those less educated. Women with the highest empowerment score are between 1.31 and 1.82 times more likely than those with a null empowerment score to use modern contraception, attend four or more antenatal care visits and have a skilled attendant at birth.

          Conclusions/Significance

          Efforts to expand maternal health service utilization can be accelerated by parallel investments in programs aimed at poverty eradication (MDG 1), universal primary education (MDG 2), and women's empowerment (MDG 3).

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          Most cited references 27

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          Meta-analysis in clinical trials.

          This paper examines eight published reviews each reporting results from several related trials. Each review pools the results from the relevant trials in order to evaluate the efficacy of a certain treatment for a specified medical condition. These reviews lack consistent assessment of homogeneity of treatment effect before pooling. We discuss a random effects approach to combining evidence from a series of experiments comparing two treatments. This approach incorporates the heterogeneity of effects in the analysis of the overall treatment efficacy. The model can be extended to include relevant covariates which would reduce the heterogeneity and allow for more specific therapeutic recommendations. We suggest a simple noniterative procedure for characterizing the distribution of treatment effects in a series of studies.
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            Strategies for reducing maternal mortality: getting on with what works.

            The concept of knowing what works in terms of reducing maternal mortality is complicated by a huge diversity of country contexts and of determinants of maternal health. Here we aim to show that, despite this complexity, only a few strategic choices need to be made to reduce maternal mortality. We begin by presenting the logic that informs our strategic choices. This logic suggests that implementation of an effective intrapartum-care strategy is an overwhelming priority. We also discuss the alternative configurations of such a strategy and, using the best available evidence, prioritise one strategy based on delivery in primary-level institutions (health centres), backed up by access to referral-level facilities. We then go on to discuss strategies that complement intrapartum care. We conclude by discussing the inexplicable hesitation in decision-making after nearly 20 years of safe motherhood programming: if the fifth Millennium Development Goal is to be achieved, then what needs to be prioritised is obvious. Further delays in getting on with what works begs questions about the commitment of decision-makers to this goal.
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              Maternal mortality: who, when, where, and why.

              The risk of a woman dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth during her lifetime is about one in six in the poorest parts of the world compared with about one in 30 000 in Northern Europe. Such a discrepancy poses a huge challenge to meeting the fifth Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality by 75% between 1990 and 2015. Some developed and transitional countries have managed to reduce their maternal mortality during the past 25 years. Few of these, however, began with the very high rates that are now estimated for the poorest countries-in which further progress is jeopardised by weak health systems, continuing high fertility, and poor availability of data. Maternal deaths are clustered around labour, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period, with obstetric haemorrhage being the main medical cause of death. Local variation can be important, with unsafe abortion carrying huge risk in some populations, and HIV/AIDS becoming a leading cause of death where HIV-related mortaliy rates are high. Inequalities in the risk of maternal death exist everywhere. Targeting of interventions to the most vulnerable--rural populations and poor people--is essential if substantial progress is to be achieved by 2015.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2010
                23 June 2010
                : 5
                : 6
                Affiliations
                Population, Family and Reproductive Health Department, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
                CIET, Canada
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SA AAC DG AT. Analyzed the data: AAC. Wrote the paper: SA AAC DG AT. Critically reviewed several versions of the manuscript: SA DG AT.

                Article
                09-PONE-RA-12719R2
                10.1371/journal.pone.0011190
                2890410
                20585646
                Ahmed et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Counts
                Pages: 6
                Categories
                Research Article
                Obstetrics/Pregnancy
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Global Health
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Health Policy
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health

                Uncategorized

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