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Professional care delivery or traditional birth attendants? The impact of the type of care utilized by mothers on under-five mortality of their children

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Abstract

Background: Because of the high under-five mortality rate, the government in Zambia has adopted the World Health Organization (WHO) policy on child delivery which insists on professional maternal care. However, there are scholars who criticize this policy by arguing that although built on good intentions, the policy to ban traditional birth attendants (TBAs) is out of touch with local reality in Zambia. There is lack of evidence to legitimize either of the two positions, nor how the outcome differs between women with HIV and those without HIV. Thus, the aim of this paper is to investigate the effect of using professional maternal care or TBA care by mothers (during antenatal, delivery, and postnatal) on under-five mortality of their children. We also compare these outcomes between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. Methods: By relying on data from the 2013-2014 Zambia Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS), we carried out propensity score matching (PSM) to investigate the effect of utilization of professional care or TBA during antenatal, childbirth, and postnatal on under-five mortality. This method allows us to estimate the average treatment effect on the treated (ATT). Results: Our results show that the use of professional care as opposed to TBAs in all three stages of maternal care increases the probability of children surviving beyond 5 years old. Specifically for women with HIV, professional care usage during antenatal, at birth, and during postnatal periods increases probability of survival by 0.07 percentage points (p.p), 0.71 p.p, and 0.87 p.p respectively. Similarly, for HIV-negative women, professional care usage during antenatal, at birth, and during postnatal periods increases probability of survival by 0.71 p.p, 0.52 p.p, and 0.37 p.p respectively. However, although there is a positive impact when mothers choose professional care over TBAs, the differences at all three points of maternal care are small. Conclusion: Given our findings, showing small differences in under-five child's mortality between utilizers of professional care and utilizers of TBAs, it may be questioned whether the government's intention of completely excluding TBAs (who despite being outlawed are still being used) without replacement by good quality professional care is the right decision

    Research areas

  • article, childbirth, clinical article, controlled study, female, government, health survey, human, Human immunodeficiency virus, maternal care, mortality, mother, nonhuman, perinatal period, probability, propensity score, traditional birth attendant, Zambia, NEWBORN, MODEL, VARIABLES, HEALTH-SERVICES
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages10
JournalTropical Medicine and Health
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018