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Open Access Research article

Consumer knowledge and availability of maternal and child health services: a challenge for achieving MDG 4 and 5 in Southeast Nigeria

Nwala K Emmanuel3*, Ebunoha N Gladys2 and Ugwu U Cosmas1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Health and Physical Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

2 Children Out-Patient Clinic, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital [ESUTH], Parklane, Enugu, Nigeria

3 Health Policy Research Group, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, College of Medicine, UNEC, Enugu, Nigeria

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:53  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-53

Published: 9 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Reducing child mortality and improving maternal health occupies a prominent space in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and it has been noted that some reductions have taken place, but not enough. If consumers know what and where services are available, they may be motivated to use them. This study therefore evaluated consumers’ knowledge about available maternal and child health services and where these services can be obtained in the study area. Although knowledge of available health services does not translate to utilization of these services, this study is important as knowledge of available health services can prompt the informed use of services. The study determined the consumers’ knowledge about available Maternal and Child Health services and where these services are available.

Methods

The study was a cross-sectional research design. The sample for the study consisted of a total of 450 women of child bearing age selected from the 20 political wards that make up Ezeagu Local Government Area. The 20 political wards constituted 20 clusters (cluster sampling technique) i.e. one cluster per political ward. Simple random sampling method by balloting was used to select five (5) wards out of the 20 political wards. Finally, a total of 90 women of childbearing age were selected from each of the five wards (clusters) using simple random method.

Results

The study showed that majority of the women (37.3%) were between 36-45 years, married [49.5%], had more than five children [21.6%], hold at least SSCE [23.7%], and were farmers and Christians [32.3% and 81.8%] respectively. Maternal health services available are mainly antenatal [57%] and delivery services [54.3%]. Other available services are described at the results section. In the same vein, immunization [63.8%] was the most available child health service in the area. Both Maternal and Child Health services were available mainly at public and private hospitals [53.6% and 52.3% for maternal services; 56.1% and 53.9% respectively for child health services] respectively [see result section for details].

Conclusions

Available Maternal and Child Health services known to mothers in the study area were not encouraging, and these are structurally contextual. ANC and delivery services for mothers, and immunization for children were found to be available as indicated by at least more than half of the respondents. The women knew that these services were available mostly in public and private hospitals which should constitute referral points instead of the health centers that offer primary care at community level. Knowledge of available services is important for consumers to make use of the services. Awareness programmes should be targeted more on the consumers if the MDG 4 and 5 must be reached by 2015. This suggests that the women in the study area do not use primary health care services adequately, and may be incurring huge indirect costs and at the same time travel too far to obtain primary care. This is therefore quite challenging for reducing child mortality and improving maternal health in southeast Nigeria. Knowledge of available services is important for consumers to make use of the services. Awareness programmes should be targeted more on the consumers if the MDG 4 and 5 must be reached by 2015.