A study of perinatal services among maternity users in a southern district in Nepal.
Authors: Mahato, P.
Introduction: A birthing centre (BC) is a component of maternal health service delivery at local level and provides a midwifery led model of care in a community or hospital setting to healthy women with uncomplicated or low risk pregnancies. In Nepal, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) provide much of the primary care maternity services delivering care especially at BCs. Literature suggests, BCs in Nepal are often bypassed in order to utilise services available at hospitals. There is a need for study which focuses on the role of BCs in providing good quality maternity and childbirth services. This study evaluated the effects of an intervention consisting of supporting BCs and community-based health promotion programme on increasing access and utilisation of perinatal care facilities in community setting.
Methods: A longitudinal (cross-sectional) study was undertaken using a mixed methods approach. The quantitative methods consisted of two surveys that were conducted in rural area of a district in Nepal in the year 2012 and 2017 respectively. The qualitative method consisted of interviews and focus group discussion. Survey data were analysed in SPSS and interviews in NVivo. Descriptive analysis along with chi square test for association, Cramer’s V for strength of association and multinomial logistic regression were conducted for quantitative survey whereas qualitative data were analysed thematically.
Results: The results of quantitative data showed that there was increase in utilisation of perinatal services available from BCs. There was also change in place of childbirth from home to health facilities, mostly the BCs. The results of multinomial logistic regression showed women were significantly more likely to give birth at health facilities, mostly primary care facilities compared to home if decision maker for place of birth were husbands, women and family members; and if women had four or more antenatal care (ANC) visits. Similarly, women were less likely to give birth at primary care facilities if they had only primary level of education.
Bearing in mind the small scale of this qualitative component of study, it showed the participants were happy and satisfied with the quality of services and attitude and behaviour of ANMs at the BCs. However, the need for increasing health promotion and awareness among women, need for improving referral services and training needs for health promoters were identified.
Conclusion: The main conclusion of this thesis on maternity and childbirth care in Southern Nepal is that trained health promoters have potential to increase the births at BCs and decrease home births. The role of health promoters and female community health volunteers are important in rural Nepal, but the socio-economic factors including women’s education, occupation of husbands and decision-making capability of women also affects the access to and utilisation of perinatal services at the health facility, especially the BCs. The importance of four ANC visits cannot be overlooked in understanding the uptake of birth at BCs. Moreover, further training of health promoters along with availability of referral services needs to be ensured.