Empirical analysis of socio-economic determinants of maternal health services utilisation in Burundi
Habonimana D., Batura N.
Abstract Background Timely and appropriate health care during pregnancy and childbirth are the pillars of better maternal health outcomes. However, factors such as poverty and low education levels, long distances to a health facility, and high costs of health services may present barriers to timely access and utilisation of maternal health services. Despite antenatal care (ANC), delivery and postnatal care being free at the point of use in Burundi, utilisation of these services remains low: between 2011 and 2017, only 49% of pregnant women attended at least four ANC visits. This study explores the socio-economic determinants that affect utilisation of maternal health services in Burundi. Methods We use data from the 2016–2017 Burundi Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) collected from 8941 women who reported a live birth in the five years that preceded the survey. We use multivariate regression analysis to explore which individual-, household-, and community-level factors determine the likelihood that women will seek ANC services from a trained health professional, the number of ANC visits they make, and the choice of assisted childbirth. Results Occupation, marital status, and wealth increase the likelihood that women will seek ANC services from a trained health professional. The likelihood that a woman consults a trained health professional for ANC services is 18 times and 16 times more for married women and women living in partnership, respectively. More educated women and those who currently live a union or partnership attend more ANC visits than non-educated women and women not in union. At higher birth orders, women tend to not attend ANC visits. The more ANC visits attended, and the wealthier women are; the more likely they are to have assisted childbirth. Women who complete four or more ANC visits are 14 times more likely to have an assisted childbirth. Conclusions In Burundi, utilisation of maternal health services is low and is mainly driven by legal union and wealth status. To improve equitable access to maternal health services for vulnerable population groups such as those with lower wealth status and unmarried women, the government should consider certain demand stimulating policy packages targeted at these groups.