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      Wealth inequality and utilization of reproductive health services in the Republic of Vanuatu: insights from the multiple indicator cluster survey, 2007

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          Although the Republic of Vanuatu has improved maternal indicators, more needs to be done to improve equity among the poorest in the use of reproductive health services to expedite the progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 5(MDG 5) target. While large developing country studies provide evidence of a rich-poor gap in reproductive health services utilization, not much is written in terms of Pacific Islands. Thus, this study aims to examine the degree of inequality in utilization of reproductive health services in a nationally representative sample of Vanuatu households.


          This paper used data from the 2007 Vanuatu Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS). The analyses were based on responses from 615 ever married women, living with at least one child below two years of age. Outcomes included antenatal care (ANC) and use of birth attendants at delivery, place of delivery, and counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS. Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression methods were employed in the analysis.


          Findings revealed that the economic well-being status of the household to which women belong, played a crucial role in explaining the variation in service utilization. Inequality in utilization was found to be more pronounced between the poorest and richest groups within the wealth quintiles. In adjusted models, mothers in the richest bands of wealth were 5.50 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.34-22.47), 2.12 (95% CI: 1.02-3.42), 4.0 (95% CI 1.58-10.10), and 2.0 (95% CI 1.02-5.88) times more likely to have assisted delivery from medically trained personnel, have institutional deliveries, and have counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS.


          Association between household wealth inequality and utilization of ANC and delivery assistance from medically trained personnel, institutional delivery, and counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS suggest that higher utilization of reproductive health care services in Vanuatu poor-rich inequalities need to be addressed. Reducing poverty and making services more available and accessible to the poor may be essential for improving overall reproductive health care utilization rate in Vanuatu.

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          Most cited references 14

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          Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data--or tears: an application to educational enrollments in states of India.

          Using data from India, we estimate the relationship between household wealth and children's school enrollment. We proxy wealth by constructing a linear index from asset ownership indicators, using principal-components analysis to derive weights. In Indian data this index is robust to the assets included, and produces internally coherent results. State-level results correspond well to independent data on per capita output and poverty. To validate the method and to show that the asset index predicts enrollments as accurately as expenditures, or more so, we use data sets from Indonesia, Pakistan, and Nepal that contain information on both expenditures and assets. The results show large, variable wealth gaps in children's enrollment across Indian states. On average a "rich" child is 31 percentage points more likely to be enrolled than a "poor" child, but this gap varies from only 4.6 percentage points in Kerala to 38.2 in Uttar Pradesh and 42.6 in Bihar.
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            On the measurement of inequalities in health.

            This paper offers a critical appraisal of the various methods employed to date to measure inequalities in health. It suggests that only two of these--the slope index of inequality and the concentration index--are likely to present an accurate picture of socioeconomic inequalities in health. The paper also presents several empirical examples to illustrate of the dangers of using other measures such as the range, the Lorenz curve and the index of dissimilarity.
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              Determinants of the use of maternal health services in rural Bangladesh.

              Utilization of health services is a complex behavioral phenomenon. Empirical studies of preventive and curative services have often found that use of health services is related to the availability, quality and cost of services, as well as to social structure, health beliefs and personal characteristics of the users. In this paper an attempt is made to examine the factors associated with the use of maternal health care services in Bangladesh on the basis of data from a survey of maternal morbidity in Bangladesh, conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Research for Promotion of Essential and Reproductive Health and Technologies (BIRPERHT). The results from both the bivariate and multivariate analyses confirmed the importance of mother's education in explaining the utilization of health care services. Female education retains a net effect on maternal health service use, independent of other women's background characteristics, household's socioeconomic status and access to healthcare services. The strong influence of mother's education on the utilization of health care services is consistent with findings from other studies. Women whose husbands are involved in business/services also positively influenced the utilization of modern health care services. However, the study results are inconclusive with respect to the influence of other predisposing and enabling factors, such as women's age, number of previous pregnancies and access to health facilities. Multivariate logistic regression estimates do not show any significant impact of these factors on the use of maternal health care. The influence of severity of disease condition in explaining the utilization of maternal health care appears to be significant. Multivariate analysis indicate that women having had a life-threatening condition are little over two times more likely to seek care from a doctor or nurse to treat their maternal morbidities.

                Author and article information

                Int J Equity Health
                International Journal for Equity in Health
                BioMed Central
                2 December 2011
                : 10
                : 58
                [1 ]Department of Population Science and Human Resource Development, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi-6205, Bangladesh
                [2 ]Department of International Health, Division of Public Health, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
                [3 ]Department of Community and Global Health, the University of Tokyo, Japan
                [4 ]Department of Population Science and Human Resource Development, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi-6205, Bangladesh
                [5 ]Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Republic of Vanuatu
                [6 ]Institute of Statistical Research and Training, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
                Copyright ©2011 Rahman et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                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 work is properly cited.



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