Childbirth is an eventful natural process. All mothers can develop complication at any time between conception and childbirth period. Accordingly, majority of maternal deaths occur due to preventable direct obstetric causes such as hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labor, unsafe abortion and hypertension during pregnancy (1). These causes can be detected and managed early during antenatal and intrapartum period by existing and well known medical interventions (2).
Hence, access to skilled health services during childbirth is one of the strongest determinants of maternal and newborn health outcomes (3). Unfortunately, the percentage of women in Ethiopia using skilled birth attendance (SBA) has been very low (4).
A Prompt decision in seeking reproductive health service like having a skilled birth attendant at every delivery has been found to be markedly influenced by husbands (5, 6). Husbands typically serve as gatekeepers of their wives’ reproductive health including decisions about where they will be delivering as different evidence show (5, 7).
In African countries, husbands generally are considered to be the decision makers regarding the location at which their spouse should give birth (7, 8). Therefore, husbands’ involvement in maternal health care services as a building block for ensuring women’s and children`s wellbeing.
Currently, husband’s involvement in maternal health is being advocated as an essential element for making pregnancy safer. Husbands involvement in maternal health care has been described as the participation, commitment and joint responsibility and behavioral change that is needed for husbands to play in their wives’ health care with the purpose of ensuring wellbeingness of the mother and her newborn child (9).
Maternal mortality is a key indicator of international development and its reduction has long been and continues to be a global challenge, particularly in low-income countries including Ethiopia. Globally, in 2015, an estimated 303,000 women died as a result of pregnancy and childbirth-related complication (10, 11).
Almost all 99% (302, 000) of global maternal deaths occurred in developing countries, with the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 239 per 100,000 live births which is more than 14 times higher compared to the developed regions (12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births). Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries alone accounted for 66% of maternal deaths with the maternal mortality ratio of 546 per 100,000 live births (201,000), followed by Southern Asia 180 per 100,000 live births (66 000)(10).
In Ethiopia, maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 353/100,000 live births according to World Health Statistics 2018 (11), indicating a significant improvement from that reported in 2011 EDHS 676/100,000 live births. However, this figure is far from the millennium development goal (MDG) target of 267 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015 (10).
Lack of skilled-birth attendance has been considered as one of the reasons that resulted in the poor progress of maternal mortality reduction programs. However, in some cases where the different services exist, husbands are reported to ban their wives from seeking any maternal health care like giving birth with assistance of skilled professionals (12).
Worldwide, the proportion of deliveries attended by skilled health personnel increased from 59% in 1990 to 71% in 2014 (13). Different reports showed that about 90% of births in Ethiopia occur at home without skilled attendance among which 34% receive some level of antenatal care from a skilled provider (4, 14, 15).
The previous studies found that the social, cultural, and religious factors play a great role in skilled birth attendant service uptake. In addition to that, age of mothers, harmful traditional practices, low social status of women, limited female involvement in decision making, family members’ influence and decisions, and women’s limited influence over their families are key determinants in utilization of skilled-birth attendances (16, 17). And also, the studies found that poor attitude of health workers, and poor quality of care are related to low service uptake (18).
World Health Organization have done different intervention for husbands to increase their involvement in order to tackling the above mentioned problems by increasing the involvement in maternal and child health including skilled-birth attendance (9).
Even if different intervention have done regarding to husbands’ involvement to increase their involvement, the evidence of study results in northern Nigeria and Farta district, Northwest Ethiopia revealed that more than 25% and 8.3% of mothers respectively deliver at home due to the influence of their husbands resisting to go to health facility at time of childbirth (12, 19). From their study findings, they recommend that further research has to be undertaken to determine clearly the determinants of husband’s involvement in promoting skilled-birth attendant.
The current prevailing literatures on the issue did not fully address the determinants of husband’s involvement on maternal and child health as whole. Therefore, this study is very curial and timely to identify the determinants of husbands’ involvement in promoting skilled-delivery attendance in the study area.