Utilisation of primary health care services in rural Bangladesh : the population and provider perspectives
This thesis is about the Utilisation of Maternal and Child Health Care Services (MCH) in Rural Bangladesh. Investigations have been made to identify the underlying causes of low use of the MCH services provided through the public sector health care facilities, which is a major concern for the government of Bangladesh. This thesis focuses on the factors that are affecting the use of MCH services both from population and provider perspectives. Socio-economic condition of people, their knowledge and attitudes towards the public sector health care services are considered as population factors, while different aspects of quality of public health services, access to the service facilities and provider's behaviour are explored as the providers' factors. Aims: The aim of this research was to provide policy recommendations for improving utilisation of the public health services at the primary health care level by redesigning more accessible, acceptable and quality health care services, especially for rural women and children. Scope: Maternal health services: antenatal care; tetanus vaccination; place of child delivery; and postnatal care are considered in this study. While two major killer diseases: diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, and immunisation of children under five years of age are included as child health care services. Methods: A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods are used to collect data /information from 360 mothers, 28 formal and informal community leaders, 44 various types of health care providers and 22 public sector facilities in a rural area of Bangladesh. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended 30 cluster sampling method was used in sample design. Household survey, in-depth interview, informal and formal discussion, participant observation and document analysis have been carried out to obtain necessary information/data. Data analyses: The quantitative data have been analysed by using STATA and SPSS statistical computer programme, performing descriptive, bivariate and logistic regression analysis. The qualitative information has been analysed in a descriptive way. Results: The results show that the use of government health facilities: THC, FWC and VHCP is generally very low with an exception of the use of VHCP for TT vaccination to women and child immunisation. The use of VHCP is encouraging for the government policy makers and planners. THC is partially meeting the health care need of rural people and mainly serving the interest of people of relatively high socio-economic condition. FWC is the most unused health care facility at the rural areas of Bangladesh. The majority of people (86%) received health care from non - qualified health care providers. Among the socio-economic factors - family education and income were found to be significant both individually and jointly with the variations of use of MCH services. The majority of the sample population does not have knowledge about the MCH service availability and possessed negative attitudes towards the public sector MCH services. These are attributable to the under utilisation problem. Nine gaps have been identified between peoples' `reasonable expectation' and the `existing' MCH service delivery system. Peoples' involvement in the health service organisation at the thana and union level was found almost nil. However their involvement in the operation of VHCP was encouraging. Low (2-3 minutes) consultation time, lack of privacy in treatment, unregulated involvement of public sector provider in private practice, lack of accountability, supervision and improper behaviour of providers deteriorating the quality of services hence decreases the use of public sector facilities. Unavailability of drug was found to be the single most important reason that deters people from using public facilities. Difficulties in access to quality services were found to be a major problem than access to the service facilities. Conclusions: This thesis suggests that giving priority to improving the service qualities of the existing facilities rather than construction/development of additional facilities at PHC level. It also suggests the initiation of behaviour change programmes for public sector health care providers. Secondly an effective mechanism needs to be developed to ensure peoples' involvement in the management and operation of public health care facilities to enhance accountability of public sector provider to the population and reduce the gap between them. Initiatives could be taken to improve the quality of non-qualified health care providers, as they are the main source of health care for the majority of population. Finally, increasing the education level of rural population particularly for women could increase the use of health services.