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Poverty and Access to Maternal Health Care Services in Pakistan: Evidence from Perception Based Data

Haq, Rashida and Arshad, Nabeela (2007): Poverty and Access to Maternal Health Care Services in Pakistan: Evidence from Perception Based Data. Published in: Population and Regional Development Nexus: 8th Annual Population Research Proceedings, December 17-18, 2007 Islamabad, Pakistan (2008): pp. 241-259.


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Pakistan is on its way to achieving the targets of the fifth Millennium Development Goal in terms of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. However, the rate of decline needs to speed up over the next decade as Pakistan has a high Maternal Mortality Ratio ranging between 400 to 1,400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

The aim of this study is to explore the role of poverty status as a barrier in access to maternal health care services in Pakistan by regions and provinces. The analysis is based on The Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement Survey 2004-05. Four important indicators prenatal care, institutional delivery, postnatal care and utilization of family planning services are taken to assess the utilization of maternal health care services across perception based economic status. The findings of this study reveal that approximately 20 to 27 percent of women’s economic status worsened in 2004-05 as compared to a previous year. The antenatal care services received by women suggest that 49 percent births are preceded by a single prenatal visit in Pakistan while variation is observed across economic status and provinces while delivery care is still dominated by home births particularly in rural areas and among the lower economic status groups. As far as health care providers are concerned, better off women avail the facility from private sector while majority of poor women visit government hospitals or clinics. The role and content of postnatal care has been paid less attention across region and provinces. Only a quarter of women ever utilized the facility of family planning center during the month preceding the survey. Finally, it can be concluded that the poor economic status of women is a barrier in utilizing the maternal health care services. Finally, it is suggested that the progress of policies and program related to maternal health care services should always be monitored and evaluated in terms of the success achieved not only on aggregate terms but for each group of the population.

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