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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 1/2018

Stakeholders’ perspectives on facilitators of and barriers to the utilisation of and access to maternal health services in Eritrea: a qualitative study

Zeitschrift:
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth > Ausgabe 1/2018
Autoren:
Chol Chol, Cynthia Hunter, Berhane Debru, Berhana Haile, Joel Negin, Robert G. Cumming

Abstract

Background

Wars affect maternal health services by destroying health systems. Eritrea experienced two wars with neighbouring Ethiopia. Despite this, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Eritrea fell by 69% from 1590 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 501 in 2015. This study aimed to examine facilitators of and barriers to the utilisation of and access to maternal health services in Eritrea.

Methods

Using in-depth interviews and field observations for data collection, this qualitative study was conducted in five healthcare facilities in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, in February and March 2016. The participants were: women (n = 40), husbands (n = 5), healthcare providers (n = 10), and decision makers (n = 5).

Results

There were two perceived facilitators of utilisation of and access to maternal health services: health education (related to the WHO health service delivery building blocks) and improvement in gender equality driven by the role played by Eritrean women as combatants during the War of Independence (1961–1991). The only perceived barrier was poor quality of care due to lack of ultrasound machines, short clinic opening hours, and shortage of healthcare workers (related to the WHO health workforce building block).

Conclusion

This study assessed women and their husbands/partners’ perceptions and the possible effects of contemporary Eritrean culture and the history of war on the utilisation of and access to maternal health services in the country. As well, we examined healthcare providers’ and decision makers’ perspectives. The two key facilitators of women’s utilisation of and access to maternal health services were health education and women’s empowerment driven by their role as combatants during the War of Independence. One main barrier was poor quality of care due to lack of ultrasound machines, short clinic opening hours, and a shortage of healthcare workers. As only a limited number of qualitative studies have been published about maternal health services in war-affected sub-Saharan African countries, our findings regarding health education and women’s empowerment could be considered in other war-affected countries similar to Eritrea. Nevertheless, further research is needed to investigate our findings – particularly regarding female empowerment driven by women’s role in combat in relation to their maternal health.
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