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Women's reproductive health decision-making: A multi-country analysis of demographic and health surveys in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Darteh EKM, Dickson KS, and Doku DT
Source: PLOS ONE , 14(1): e0209985. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209985
Topic(s): Household decision-making
Reproductive health
Women's autonomy
Women's health
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: JAN 2019
Abstract: INTRODUCTION: Women's ability to make decisions regarding their reproductive health has important implications for their health and well-being. We studied the socio-demographic factors affecting reproductive health decision-making among women in 27 sub-Sahara African countries. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study made use of pooled data from current Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) conducted from January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2016 in 27 countries in sub-Sahara African. Binary and multivariate logistic regression models were used to investigate the associations of women's socio-demographic factors with decision-making regarding sexual reproductive health. RESULTS: The proportion of women who can ask their partners to use a condom during sexual intercourse ranged from lowest in Mali (16.6%) to highest in Namibia (93.4%). Furthermore, the proportion of women who can refuse sex ranged from 18.3% in Mali to 92.4% in Namibia. Overall, approximately every five out of ten women can ask their partners to use a condom, six out ten women could refuse their partners sex and seven out of ten women could make at least 1 decision. Women from rural areas (OR = 0.51, CI = 0.48-0.54), those with no education (OR = 0.11, CI = 0.10-0.12), Muslim women (OR = 0.29, CI = 0.27-0.31), women not working (OR = 0.53, CI = 0.51-0.56) and women whose partners had no education (OR = 0.17, CI = 0.16-0.19) were less likely to make a decision on their reproductive health. CONCLUSION: Residence, age, level of education, religion, occupation and partner's education were found to be associated with women's decision-making about sexual intercourse, condom use and reproductive health decision-making index. This study contributes to the discourse on reproductive health decision-making in Africa. Policies and intervention targeted at improving women's autonomy and empowering them to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health issues should be focused on these factors.