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J Health Popul Nutr. 2006 Dec;24(4):489-97.

Birth-preparedness for maternal health: findings from Koupéla District, Burkina Faso.

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Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Maternal mortality is a global burden, with more than 500,000 women dying each year due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Birth-preparedness and complication readiness is a comprehensive strategy to improve the use of skilled providers at birth, the key intervention to decrease maternal mortality. Birth-preparedness and complication readiness include many elements, including: (a) knowledge of danger signs; (b) plan for where to give birth; (c) plan for a birth attendant; (d) plan for transportation; and (e) plan for saving money. The 2003 Burkina Faso Demographic and Health Survey indicated that only 38.5% of women gave birth with the assistance of a skilled provider. The Maternal and Neonatal Health Program of JHPIEGO implemented a district-based model service-delivery system in Koupéla, Burkina Faso, during 2001-2004, to increase the use of skilled providers during pregnancy and childbirth. In 2004, a cross-sectional survey with a random sample of respondents was conducted to measure the impact of birth-preparedness and complication readiness on the use of skilled providers at birth. Of the 180 women who had given birth within 12 months of the survey, 46.1% had a plan for transportation, and 83.3% had a plan to save money. Women with these plans were more likely to give birth with the assistance of a skilled provider (p=0.07 and p=0.03 respectively). Controlling for education, parity, average distance to health facility, and the number of antenatal care visits, planning to save money was associated with giving birth with the assistance of a skilled provider (p=0.05). Qualitative interviews with women who had given birth within 12 months of the survey (n=30) support these findings. Most women saved money for delivery, but had less concrete plans for transportation. These findings highlight how birth-preparedness and complication readiness may be useful in increasing the use of skilled providers at birth, especially for women with a plan for saving money during pregnancy.

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