Antenatal and delivery services in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: care-seeking and experiences reported by women in a household-based survey

Trop Med Int Health. 2013 Oct;18(10):1211-21. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12171. Epub 2013 Aug 22.


Objectives: Increasing coverage of quality reproductive health services, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, requires understanding where and how these services are provided. To inform scale-up, we conducted a population-based survey in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Methods: Stratified two-stage cluster sampling was used to select women ≥18 years old who had been pregnant within the prior three years. Participants were interviewed about their reproductive healthcare utilization and impressions of services received.

Results: We interviewed 1221 women, 98% of whom sought antenatal care (ANC). 78% of women began ANC after the first trimester and 22% reported <4 visits. Reasons for choosing an ANC facility included reputation (51%), friendly/accessible staff (39%), availability of comprehensive services (29%), medication access (26%), location (26%), and cost (21%). Most women reported satisfactory treatment by staff, but 47% reported that the ANC provider ignored their complaints, 23% had difficulty understanding responses to their questions, 22% wanted more time with the provider, 21% wanted more privacy, and 12% felt uncomfortable asking questions. Only 56% reported someone talked to them about HIV/AIDS. Strongest predictors of seeking inadequate ANC included low participant and partner education and lack of certain assets. Only 32% of women sought postnatal care. Some results varied by health zone.

Conclusions: Scaling-up interventions to improve reproductive health services should include broad-based health systems strengthening and promote equitable access to quality ANC, delivery, and postnatal services. Personal and structural-level barriers to seeking ANC need to be addressed, with consideration given to local contexts.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo; antenatal care; household survey; implementation research; maternal and child health; prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric / standards*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / standards*
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult