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J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2013 Feb;35(2):125-130. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(15)31016-1.

Barriers to access of maternity care in kenya: a social perspective.

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Omni Research Group, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa ON.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa ON.
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON.
BORN Ontario, Ottawa ON.
Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queens University, Kingston ON.
Asembo Bay Women's Development Centre, Asembo Bay, Kenya.



In response to high maternal mortality rates, the global community has rallied to improve the state of maternal health worldwide. However, progress towards the fifth Millennium Development Goal, "Improve Maternal Health," has been disappointingly slow. There is a pressing need to address the factors that contribute to maternal mortality, one of which is access to care. This health demand is particularly urgent in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where maternal mortality is disproportionately high compared with developed countries. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions rural women have about barriers to access to maternity care in Asembo Bay, Kenya.


We conducted interviews with individuals and convened a focus group of lay women and care professionals. The results of the interviews and focus group were then analyzed thematically.


Common social themes that emerged related to women's access of maternity care in this population included fears associated with HIV testing or disclosure of HIV status, gender inequalities, and attitudes towards facility-based care.


Data and themes in this study are consistent with previous research and provide a descriptive account of the barriers that prevent rural Kenyan mothers from accessing health care throughout their pregnancies. Each barrier explored here translates into an area of improvement where focus is needed to increase access to care and, ultimately, to reduce maternal mortality in this setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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