Purpose: Our aim was to determine the coverage of antenatal and delivery care and the determinants of non-compliance in a rural area of Zimbabwe in order to improve the quality and efficiency of maternal health care services.
Methods: A community-based, cross-sectional study was carried out in the catchment area of Gutu Mission Hospital, in rural Zimbabwe, from January to June 1996. Two hundred and thirty-five women, aged 16 to 54 years, who had delivered a child in the past three years were interviewed on general characteristics (age, marital status, religion, education, work), obstetric history, use of family planning, pregnancy complications, number of antenatal visits, and use of maternity waiting shelters. Associations of these factors to non-use of antenatal care facilities and hospital delivery were studied. In the Gutu district, guidelines exist to identify women at high risk of complications during pregnancy and to indicate where women should give birth (hospital, rural clinic or at home). We evaluated which factors were important for non-compliance to these guidelines. The analyses were performed using a logistic regression model.
Results: Ninety-seven percent of the pregnant women attended the antenatal care facilities at least once. Seventy-three percent came at least five times or more. Belonging to certain religious groups proved to be the strongest explanatory factor for not attending antenatal care facilities. Use of maternity waiting shelters and complications during the pregnancy were important factors for hospital delivery, whereas unemployment and being without a husband were associated with deliveries outside the hospital. Identification as high risk of a complicated pregnancy by application of the existing guidelines was not associated with place of delivery. Delivery at a location that did not conform to the existing guidelines was associated with non-use of maternity waiting shelters, unemployment or being without a husband and use of traditional care.
Conclusions: Our study showed a high attendance rate at antenatal care facilities in the Gutu District. By analyzing determinants of non-use of antenatal care facilities, of hospital delivery and of inappropriate location of delivery according to local guidelines, we identified certain risk factors which are suitable for modification and may help to improve antenatal and perinatal care in the Gutu District in Zimbabwe.