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STUDY: Investment crucial in reducing access barriers to maternal, child healthcare

Aug. 15, 2022
STUDY:  Investment crucial in reducing access barriers to maternal, child healthcare
A snip from the BMC journal with an insets of Ifakara Health Institute researcher, Dr. Peter Binyaruka, who contributed to the study. GRAPHIC | IFAKARA/KMC.

A latest study on maternal and child health have underscored the need for investment in primary health care to reduce cost burdens and access barriers to maternal and child healthcare, especially among vulnerable groups.

The study, whose findings were published on the BMC Journal recently, was conducted by Peter Binyaruka from Ifakara Health Institute and Josephine Borghi from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. They wanted to analyze the costs of accessing and utilizing maternal and child health care services in Tanzania.

“Our findings reinforce the need for policymakers in low-medium income countries to invest more in improving PHC facilities, as a way to reduce the time and cost burdens of accessing and using PHC services, especially among the poorest and rural patients. This can be through facilities construction and renovation and increased supply of healthcare workers and medical commodities. However, efforts to reduce other access barriers may need multisectoral collaboration.”

After collecting data from 1,407 patients in 150 facilities in Tanzania, the scientists also wanted to fill the knowledge gap on access barriers in PHC which for long had limited attention. These barriers include time and transport costs and how they are distributed across patients, facilities, and service types, especially in poor settings.

In order to reduce the access barriers, the scientists suggested “facilities construction and renovation and increased supply of healthcare workers and medical commodities,” as potential initiatives to consider.
They also highlighted the importance of assessing time and transport costs alongside medical costs when evaluating health care access and use and financial protection towards universal health care in low-medium income countries.

“Future research intending to assess health care access and financial protection should incorporate time and transport costs as well as medical costs, and assess the coping mechanisms and level of affordability of various cost components,” they said.

The scientists collected data for two months (January-February 2012) from three regions; Coast, Morogoro, and Lindi in Tanzania through patient exit interviews at 150 public and private health facilities.

Link to the full article: https://doi.org/10.1186/S13561-022-00387-7