Pakistan, being a developing country, presents the dismal picture of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. The majority of maternal and neonatal deaths could be avoided if Continuum of Care (CoC) is provided in a structured pathway from pregnancy to birth and to the first week of life of the newborn child. This study aimed to analyse the trends of CoC at all three levels (antenatal care, skilled delivery and postpartum care) and to identify various factors affecting the continuation in receiving CoC in Pakistan during 2006 to 2012.
Secondary data analysis was performed on nationally representative data from the last two iterations of Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS), conducted during 2006/07 to 2012/13. The analysis is limited to women of the reproductive age group (15–49 years) who gave birth during the last five years preceding both surveys. This leads to a sample size of 5,724 and 7,461 respondents from PDHS 2006/07 and 2012/13 respectively. The association between CoC and several factors, including individual attributes (reproductive status), family influences, community context, as well as cultural and social values was assessed in bivariate analyses in a first step. Furthermore, odds ratios and adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals using a binary and multivariable logistic regression were calculated.
Our research presents the trends of a composite measure of CoC including antenatal care, delivery assistance and postpartum care. The largest gap in CoC was observed at antenatal care followed by delivery and postnatal care within 48 h after delivery. Results show that CoC completion rate has increased from 15% to 27% amongst women in Pakistan over time from 2006 to 2012. Women with high age at first birth, having less number of children, with higher education, belonging to richest quintile, living in Sindh province and urban areas, having high autonomy and exposure to mass media were most likely to avail complete CoC.
The findings show that women in Pakistan still lack the CoC. This calls for attention to develop and implement tailored interventions, focusing on the needs of women in Pakistan to provide CoC in an integrated manner, involving both public and private sectors by appropriately addressing the factors hindering CoC completion rates.