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Spatial variation and inequities in antenatal care coverage in Kenya, Uganda and mainland Tanzania using model-based geostatistics: a socioeconomic and geographical accessibility lens

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Article number908
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>6/12/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/12/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


BACKGROUND: Pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) experience the highest levels of maternal mortality and stillbirths due to predominantly avoidable causes. Antenatal care (ANC) can prevent, detect, alleviate, or manage these causes. While eight ANC contacts are now recommended, coverage of the previous minimum of four visits (ANC4+) remains low and inequitable in SSA.

METHODS: We modelled ANC4+ coverage and likelihood of attaining district-level target coverage of 70% across three equity stratifiers (household wealth, maternal education, and travel time to the nearest health facility) based on data from malaria indicator surveys in Kenya (2020), Uganda (2018/19) and Tanzania (2017). Geostatistical models were fitted to predict ANC4+ coverage and compute exceedance probability for target coverage. The number of pregnant women without ANC4+ were computed. Prediction was at 3 km spatial resolution and aggregated at national and district -level for sub-national planning.

RESULTS: About six in ten women reported ANC4+ visits, meaning that approximately 3 million women in the three countries had <ANC4+ visits. The majority of the 366 districts in the three countries had ANC4+ coverage of 50-70%. In Kenya, 13% of districts had < 70% coverage, compared to 10% and 27% of the districts in Uganda and mainland Tanzania, respectively. Only one district in Kenya and ten districts in mainland Tanzania were likely met the target coverage. Six percent, 38%, and 50% of the districts had at most 5000 women with <ANC4+ visits in Kenya, Uganda, and mainland Tanzania, respectively, while districts with > 20,000 women having <ANC4+ visits were 38%, 1% and 1%, respectively. In many districts, ANC4+ coverage and likelihood of attaining the target coverage was lower among the poor, uneducated and those geographically marginalized from healthcare.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings will be invaluable to policymakers for annual appropriations of resources as part of efforts to reduce maternal deaths and stillbirths.