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A profile of women at the highest risk of maternal death in Pakistan

Sohail Agha. A profile of women at the highest risk of maternal death in Pakistan. Health Policy Plan. (2014) doi: 10.1093/heapol/czu066 First published online: July 16, 2014 [restricted access]
Abstract / Summary: 
ABSTRACT Traditionally, health interventions implemented in Pakistan have been designed to increase the supply of maternal health services, but have not focused on reaching the poorest women or on providing high-quality services. Demand-side barriers to the utilization of health services are substantial in Pakistan, as are supply-side constraints to the provision of quality health care. This study uses data from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2006-7 to develop a profile of the poorest women in Pakistan in order to understand demand-side barriers to accessing maternal health care. The study shows stark differences in human capital, material and demographic resources between the poorest women and other women. It illustrates how these differences translate into low levels of service utilization among the poorest women. The purpose of the study is to stimulate a discussion of both the difficulty and the importance of reaching the poorest women with high-quality maternal health interventions. The findings from several pilot projects in Pakistan suggest that the poorest women can be reached at disproportionately higher rates than non-poor women through targeted, community-based, interventions. There is little demonstrable evidence, however, that high-quality care has been provided through these interventions. Evidence-based approaches, which have the potential to overcome financial and sociocultural barriers to service utilization, should be scaled up as soon as possible. However, measures should be taken to ensure that the quality of care provided through these interventions is adequate and able to lead to significant reductions in mortality.  
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Selected extracts: 
'This study demonstrates that there are very substantial differences in access to information, ability to use information and geographic isolation between the poorest women and other women.'
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Sohail Agha

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