Background: Coverage levels for essential interventions aimed at reducing deaths of mothers and children are increasing steadily in most low-income and middle-income countries. We assessed how much poor and rural populations in these countries are benefiting from national-level progress.
Methods: We analysed trends in a composite coverage indicator (CCI) based on eight reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health interventions in 209 national surveys in 64 countries, from Jan 1, 1994, to Dec 31, 2014. Trends by wealth quintile and urban or rural residence were fitted with multilevel modelling. We used an approach akin to the calculation of population attributable risk to quantify the contribution of poor and rural populations to national trends.
Findings: From 1994 to 2014, the CCI increased by 0·82 percent points a year across all countries; households in the two poorest quintiles had an increase of 0·99 percent points a year, which was faster than that for the three wealthiest quintiles (0·68 percent points). Gains among poor populations were faster in lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries than in low-income countries. Globally, national level increases in CCI were 17·5% faster than they would have been without the contribution of the two poorest quintiles. Coverage increased more rapidly annually in rural (0·93 percent points) than urban (0·52 percent points) areas.
Interpretation: National coverage gains were accelerated by important increases among poor and rural mothers and children. Despite progress, important inequalities persist, and need to be addressed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Funding: UNICEF, Wellcome Trust.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.