Introduction: Despite skilled attendance during childbirth has been linked with the reduction of maternal deaths, equality in accessing this safe childbirth care is highly needed to achieving universal maternal health coverage. However, little information is available regarding the extent of inequalities in accessing safe childbirth care in Tanzania. This study was performed to assess the current extent, trend, and potential contributors of poor-rich inequalities in accessing safe childbirth care among women in Tanzania.
Methods: This study used data from 2004, 2010, and 2016 Tanzania Demographic Health Surveys. The two maternal health services 1) institutional delivery and 2) skilled birth attendance was used to measures access to safe childbirth care. The inequalities were assessed by using concentration curves and concentration indices. The decomposition analysis was computed to identify the potential contributors to the inequalities in accessing safe childbirth care.
Results: A total of 8725, 8176, and 10052 women between 15 and 49 years old from 2004, 2010, and 2016 surveys respectively were included in the study. There is an average gap (>50%) between the poorest and richest in accessing safe childbirth care during the study period. The concentration curves were below the line of inequality which means women from rich households have higher access to the institutional delivery and skilled birth attendance inequalities in accessing institutional delivery and skilled birth attendance. These were also, confirmed with their respective positive concentration indices. The decomposition analysis was able to unveil that household's wealth status, place of residence, and maternal education as the major contributors to the persistent inequalities in accessing safe childbirth care.
Conclusion: The calls for an integrated policy approach which includes fiscal policies, social protection, labor market, and employment policies need to improve education and wealth status for women from poor households. This might be the first step toward achieving universal maternal health coverage.