Not just a number: examining coverage and content of antenatal care in low-income and middle-income countries

Lenka Benova, Özge Tunçalp, Allisyn C Moran, Oona Maeve Renee Campbell

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Introduction: Antenatal care (ANC) provides a critical opportunity for women and babies to benefit from good-quality maternal care. Using 10 countries as an illustrative analysis, we described ANC coverage (number of visits and timing of first visit) and operationalised indicators for content of care as available in population surveys, and examined how these two approaches are related.

Methods: We used the most recent Demographic and Health Survey to analyse ANC related to women's most recent live birth up to 3 years preceding the survey. Content of care was assessed using six components routinely measured across all countries, and a further one to eight additional country-specific components. We estimated the percentage of women in need of ANC, and using ANC, who received each component, the six routine components and all components.

Results: In all 10 countries, the majority of women in need of ANC reported 1+ ANC visits and over two-fifths reported 4+ visits. Receipt of the six routine components varied widely; blood pressure measurement was the most commonly reported component, and urine test and information on complications the least. Among the subset of women starting ANC in the first trimester and receiving 4+ visits, the percentage receiving all six routinely measured ANC components was low, ranging from 10% (Jordan) to around 50% in Nigeria, Nepal, Colombia and Haiti.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that even among women with patterns of care that complied with global recommendations, the content of care was poor. Efficient and effective action to improve care quality relies on development of suitable content of care indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000779
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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