Maternal health equality is an ultimate goal for a better world. Early maternal healthcare service utilization is hindered by numerous social and economical barriers, along with widespread inequalities in utilization of existing services. To better understand variations existing in Uganda, we assessed differences in early antenatal care, health facility delivery and early postnatal care among women in selected sub regions. The differences were decomposed into components attributed to variation in women's characteristics and the effects of coefficients.
We used a sample of 1,521 women of reproductive ages (15-49), who delivered a child five years prior to the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey. Non-linear Oaxaca’ Blinder Multivariate Decomposition method and STATA 13.0 software were used.
Significant differences in early ANC, health facility delivery and EPNC among women in Eastern and Western sub regions were attributed to both variation in women’s characteristics and effects of coefficients. Overall gap in early ANC (57.39%), health facility delivery (63.88%) and EPNC (59.06%) was attributed to differences in women's characteristics, whereas differences in effects of coefficients attributed 42.61% variations in early ANC, 36.12% in health facility delivery, and 40.94% in EPNC.
Specifically, overall gap in early ANC would reduce if differences in availability of community health workers (31.6%) and media exposure (34.7%) were to disappear. Furthermore, the gap would increase by 68.8% and 12.6% in absence of the variation in effects of maternal education, and wealth differences respectively. Overall gap in health facility delivery would reduce if differences in community health worker availability (24.6%) and media exposure (37.2%) were to disappear, and increase by 54.9% in the absence of variations in effects of maternal education. The overall gap in EPNC would reduce if differences in maternal education (18.5%) and community health worker availability (17.17%) were to disappear and increase by 52.8% and 8.4% in the absence of the variation in effects of maternal education and wealth quintile respectively.
Progress towards equitable maternal health should focus more on strategies that guarantee even distribution of community health workers, broad dissemination of maternal healthcare information and girl child education completion in Uganda.