Examining trends in inequality in the use of reproductive health care services in Ghana and Nigeria

Oluwasegun Jko Ogundele*, Milena Pavlova, Wim Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundEquitable use of reproductive health care services is of critical importance since it may affect women's and children's health. Policies to reduce inequality in access to reproductive health care services are often general and frequently benefit the richer population. This is known as the inverse equity situation. We analyzed the magnitude and trends in wealth-related inequalities in the use of family planning, antenatal and delivery care services in Ghana and Nigeria. We also investigate horizontal inequalities in the determinants of reproductive health care service use over the years.MethodsWe use data from Ghana's (2003, 2008 and 2014) and Nigeria's (2003, 2008 and 2013) Demographic and Health Surveys. We use concentration curves and concentration indices to measure the magnitude of socioeconomic-related inequalities and horizontal inequality in the use of reproductive health care services.ResultsExposure to family planning information via mass media, antenatal care at private facilities are more often used by women in wealthier households. Health worker's assistance during pregnancy outside a facility, antenatal care at government facilities, childbirth at home are more prevalent among women in poor households in both Ghana and Nigeria. Caesarean section is unequally spread to the disadvantage of women in poorer households in Ghana and Nigeria. In Nigeria, women in wealthier households have considerably more unmet needs for family planning than in Ghana. Country inequality was persistent over time and women in poorer households in Nigeria experienced changes that are more inequitable over the years.ConclusionWe observe horizontal inequalities among women who use reproductive health care. These inequalities did not reduce substantially over the years. The gains made in reducing inequality in use of reproductive health care services are short-lived and erode over time, usually before the poorest population group can benefit. To reduce inequality in reproductive health care use, interventions should not only be pro-poor oriented, but they should also be sustainable and user-centered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number492
Number of pages19
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018


  • Concentration index
  • Inequality
  • Inequity
  • Reproductive services
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria

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