An equity analysis on the household costs of accessing and utilising maternal and child health care services in Tanzania

Background
Direct and time costs of accessing and using health care may limit health care access, affect welfare loss, and lead to catastrophic spending especially among poorest households. To date, limited attention has been given to time and transport costs and how these costs are distributed across patients, facility and service types especially in poor settings. We aimed to fill this knowledge gap.

Methods
We used data from 1407 patients in 150 facilities in Tanzania. Data were collected in January 2012 through patient exit-interviews. All costs were disaggregated across patients, facility and service types. Data were analysed descriptively by using means, medians and equity measures like equity gap, ratio and concentration index.

Results
71% of patients, especially the poorest and rural patients, accessed care on foot. The average travel time and cost were 30 minutes and 0.41USD respectively. The average waiting time and consultation time were 47 min and 13 min respectively. The average medical cost was 0.23 USD but only18% of patients paid for health care. The poorest and rural patients faced substantial time burden to access health care (travel and waiting) but incurred less transport and medical costs compared to their counterparts. The consultation time was similar across patients. Patients spent more time travelling to public facilities and dispensaries while incurring less transport cost than accessing other facility types, but waiting and consultation time was similar across facility types. Patients paid less amount in public than in private facilities. Postnatal care and vaccination clients spent less waiting and consultation time and paid less medical cost than antenatal care clients.

Conclusions
Our findings reinforce the need for a greater investment in primary health care to reduce access barriers and cost burdens especially among the worse-offs. Facility’s construction and renovation and increased supply of healthcare workers and medical commodities are potential initiatives to consider. Other initiatives may need a multi-sectoral collaboration

Inequalities in prevalence of birth by caesarean section in Ghana from 1998-2014

Background
Caesarean section (CS) is an intervention to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality, for complicated pregnancy and labour. We analysed trends in the prevalence of birth by CS in Ghana from 1998 to 2014.

Methods
Using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT) software, data from the 1998-2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys (GDHS) were analysed with respect of inequality in birth by CS. First, we disaggregated birth by CS by four equity stratifiers: wealth index, education, residence, and region. Second, we measured inequality through simple unweighted measures (Difference (D) and Ratio (R)) and complex weighted measures (Population Attributable Risk (PAR) and Population Attributable Fraction (PAF)). A 95% confidence interval was constructed for point estimates to measure statistical significance.

Results
The proportion of women who underwent CS increased significantly between 1998 (4.0%) and 2014 (12.8%). Throughout the 16-year period, the proportion of women who gave birth by CS was positively skewed towards women in the highest wealth quintile (i.e poorest vs richest: 1.5% vs 13.0% in 1998 and 4.0% vs 27.9% in 2014), those with secondary education (no education vs secondary education: 1.8% vs 6.5% in 1998 and 5.7% vs 17.2% in 2014) and women in urban areas (rural vs urban 2.5% vs 8.5% in 1998 and 7.9% vs 18.8% in 2014). These disparities were evident in both complex weighted measures of inequality (PAF, PAR) and simple unweighted measures (D and R), although some uneven trends were observed. There were also regional disparities in birth by CS to the advantage of women in the Greater Accra Region over the years (PAR 7.72; 95% CI 5.86 to 9.58 in 1998 and PAR 10.07; 95% CI 8.87 to 11.27 in 2014).

Conclusion
Ghana experienced disparities in the prevalence of births by CS, which increased over time between 1998 and 2014. Our findings indicate that more work needs to be done to ensure that all subpopulations that need medically necessary CS are given access to maternity care to reduce maternal and perinatal deaths. Nevertheless, given the potential complications with CS, we advocate that the intervention is only undertaken when medically indicated.

Burden of Cervical Cancer in the Eastern Mediterranean Region During the Years 2000 and 2017: Retrospective Data Analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study

Background:
Cervical cancer is a growing health concern, especially in resource-limited settings.

Objective:
The objective of this study was to assess the burden of cervical cancer mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and globally between the years 2000 and 2017 by using a pooled data analysis approach.

Methods:
We used an ecological approach at the country level. This included extracting data from publicly available databases and linking them together in the following 3 steps: (1) extraction of data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study in the years 2000 and 2017, (2) categorization of EMR countries according to the World Bank gross domestic product per capita, and (3) linking age-specific population data from the Population Statistics Division of the United Nations (20-29 years, 30-49 years, and >50 years) and GBD’s data with gross national income per capita and globally extracted data, including cervical cancer mortality and DALY numbers and rates per country. The cervical cancer mortality rate was provided by the GBD study using the following formula: number of cervical cancer deaths × 100,000/female population in the respective age group.

Results:
The absolute number of deaths due to cervical cancer increased from the year 2000 (n=6326) to the year 2017 (n=8537) in the EMR; however, the mortality rate due to this disease decreased from the year 2000 (2.7 per 100,000) to the year 2017 (2.5 per 100,000). According to age-specific data, the age group ≥50 years showed the highest mortality rate in both EMR countries and globally, and the age group of 20-29 years showed the lowest mortality rate both globally and in the EMR countries. Further, the rates of cervical cancer DALYs in the EMR were lower compared to the global rates (2.7 vs 6.8 in 2000 and 2.5 vs 6.8 in 2017 for mortality rate per 100,000; 95.8 vs 222.2 in 2000 and 86.3 vs 211.8 in 2017 for DALY rate per 100,000; respectively). However, the relative difference in the number of DALYs due to cervical cancer between the year 2000 and year 2017 in the EMR was higher than that reported globally (34.9 vs 24.0 for the number of deaths and 23.5 vs 18.1 for the number of DALYs, respectively).

Conclusions:
We found an increase in the burden of cervical cancer in the EMR as per the data on the absolute number of deaths and DALYs. Further, we found that the health care system has an increased number of cases to deal with, despite the decrease in the absolute number of deaths and DALYs. Cervical cancer is preventable if human papilloma vaccination is taken and early screening is performed. Therefore, we recommend identifying effective vaccination programs and interventions to reduce the burden of this disease.

Trends in national and subnational wealth related inequalities in use of maternal health care services in Nepal: an analysis using demographic and health surveys (2001–2016)

Background
Maternal health affects the lives of many women and children globally every year and it is one of the high priority programs of the Government of Nepal (GoN). Different evidence articulate that the equity gap in accessing and using maternal health services at national level is decreasing over 2001–2016. This study aimed to assess whether the equity gap in using maternal health services is also decreasing at subnational level over this period given the geography of Nepal has already been identified as one of the predictors of accessibility and utilization of maternal health services.

Methods
The study used wealth index scores for each household and calculated the concentration curves and indexes in their relative formulation, with no corrections. Concentration curve was used to identify whether socioeconomic inequality in maternity services exists and whether it was more pronounced at one point in time than another or in one province than another. The changes between 2001 and 2016 were also disaggregated across the provinces. Test of significance of changes in Concentration Index was performed by calculating pooled standard errors. We used R software for statistical analysis.

Results
The study observed a progressive and statistically significant decrease in concentration index for at least four antenatal care (ANC) visit and institutional delivery at national level over 2001–2016. The changes were not statistically significant for Cesarean Section delivery. Regarding inequality in four-ANC all provinces except Karnali showed significant decreases at least between 2011 and 2016. Similarly, all provinces, except Karnali, showed a statistically significant decrease in concentration index for institutional delivery between 2011 and 2016.

Conclusion
Despite appreciable progress at national level, the study found that the progress in reducing equity gap in use of maternal health services is not uniform across seven provinces. Tailored investment to address barriers in utilization of maternal health services across provinces is urgent to make further progress in achieving equitable distribution in use of maternal health services. There is an opportunity now that the country is federalized, and provincial governments can make a need-based improvement by addressing specific barriers.

Inequalities in caesarean section in Burundi: evidence from the Burundi Demographic and Health Surveys (2010–2016)

Background
Despite caesarean section (CS) being a lifesaving intervention, there is a noticeable gap in providing this service, when necessary, between different population groups within a country. In Burundi, there is little information about CS coverage inequality and the change in provision of this service over time. Using a high-quality equity analysis approach, we aimed to document both magnitude and change of inequality in CS coverage in Burundi over 7 years to investigate disparities.

Methods
For this study, data were extracted from the 2010 and 2016 Burundi Demographic and Health Surveys (BDHS) and analyzed through the recently updated Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT) of the World Health Organization. CS delivery was disaggregated by four equity stratifiers, namely education, wealth, residence and sub-national region. For each equity stratifier, relative and absolute summary measures were calculated. We built a 95% uncertainty interval around the point estimate to determine statistical significance.

Main findings
Disparity in CS was present in both survey years and increased over time. The disparity systematically favored wealthy women (SII = 10.53, 95% UI; 8.97, 12.10), women who were more educated (PAR = 8.89, 95% UI; 8.51, 9.26), women living in urban areas (D = 12.32, 95% UI; 9.00, 15.63) and some regions such as Bujumbura (PAR = 11.27, 95% UI; 10.52, 12.02).

Conclusions
Burundi had not recorded any progress in ensuring equity regarding CS coverage between 2010 and 2016. It is important to launch interventions that promote justified use of CS among all subpopulations and discourage overuse among high income, more educated women and urban dwellers.