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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

International Journal for Equity in Health 1/2017

Examining changes in maternal and child health inequalities in Ethiopia

International Journal for Equity in Health > Ausgabe 1/2017
Alemayehu A. Ambel, Colin Andrews, Anne M. Bakilana, Elizabeth M. Foster, Qaiser Khan, Huihui Wang
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12939-017-0648-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Ethiopia has made considerable progress in maternal, newborn, and child health in terms of health outcomes and health services coverage. This study examined how different groups have fared in the process. It also looked at possible factors behind the inequalities.


The study examined 11 maternal and child health outcomes and services: stunting, underweight, wasting, neonatal mortality, infant mortality, under-5 mortality, measles vaccination, full immunization, modern contraceptive use by currently married women, antenatal care visits, and skilled birth attendance. It explored trends in inequalities by household wealth status based on Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 2000, 2005, 2011, and 2014. The study also investigated the dynamics of inequality, using concentration curves for different years. Decomposition analysis was used to identify the role of proximate determinants.


The study found substantial improvements in health outcomes and health services: Although there is still a considerable gap between the rich and the poor, inequalities in health services have been reduced. However, child nutrition outcomes have mainly improved for the rich. The changes observed in wealth-related inequality tend to reflect the changing direct effect of household wealth on child health and health service use.


The country’s efforts to improve access to health services have shown some positive results, but attention should now turn to service quality and to identifying multisectoral interventions that can change outcomes for the poorest.
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