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Analysis of socioeconomic differences in the quality of antenatal services in low and middle-income countries (LMICs)
Authors: Joshua Amo-Adjei, Kofi Aduo-Adjei, Christiana Opoku-Nyamah, and Chimaroake Izugbara
Source: PLOS ONE , 13(2): e0192513; DOI:
Topic(s): Antenatal care
Health care utilization
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: FEB 2018
Abstract: The desired results of increasing access and availability of antenatal care (ANC) services may not be realized if the quality of care offered is not adequate. We analyzed the content/quality of antenatal care to determine whether there are socioeconomic (education and wealth) inequalities in the services provided in 59 low and middle income countries in six WHO regions–Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and South Asia. We aggregated the most recent (2005–2015) Demographic and Health Survey for each country. The quality of content was measured on eight recommended ANC services–(1) monitoring of blood pressure; (2) tetanus injection; (3) urine analysis for protein; (4) blood test; (5) information about danger signs (6); weight (7); height measurements and (8) provision of iron-folate supplement. Descriptive and Poisson regression techniques were applied to analyse the data. We found considerable wealth and educational differences prior to controlling for known covariates. Between wealth and education, however, the disparities in the latter are larger than the former. Whereas the socioeconomic differences remained at post adjusting for residence, place and number of antenatal care, parity and region, the magnitude of change was minimal. Higher number of ANC content was provided in “other” forms of private facilities; the Latin America and Caribbean region recorded the highest number of content compared to the other regions. The hypothesized socioeconomic status on content/number of ANC services was generally supported, although the associations are substantially constrained to other variables. Efforts are made to increase the number and timing of ANC services; due recognition is needed for the content offered.