BMC health services research 2017 12 0417(Suppl 2) 699 doi 10.1186/s12913-017-2647-8
Access to maternal and child health care in low- and middle-income countries such as Togo is characterized by significant inequalities. Most studies in the Togolese context have examined the total inequality of health and the determinants of individuals’ health. Few empirical studies in Togo have focused on inequalities of opportunity in maternal and child health. To fill this gap, we estimated changes in inequality of opportunity in access to maternal and child health services between 1998 and 2013 using data from Togo Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).
We computed the Human Opportunity Index (HOI)-a measure of how individual, household, and geographic characteristics like sex and place of residence can affect individuals’ access to services or goods that should be universal-using five indicators of access to healthcare and one composite indicator of access to adequate care for children. The five indicators of access were: birth in a public or private health facility; whether the child had received any vaccinations; access to prenatal care; prenatal care given by qualified staff; and having at least four antenatal visits. We then examined differences across the two years.
Between 1998 and 2013, inequality of opportunities decreased for four out of six indicators. However, inequalities increased in access to antenatal care provided by qualified staff (5.9% to 12.5%) and access to adequate care (27.7% to 28.6%).
Although inequality of opportunities reduced between 1998 and 2013 for some of the key maternal and child health indicators, the average coverage and access rates underscore the need for sustained efforts to ensure equitable access to primary health care for mothers and children.