BACKGROUND: Egypt has seen substantial decreases in maternal mortality and reached near universal coverage for antenatal care (ANC). The objective of this paper is to describe the changes over time (1991-2014) in the use of ANC in Egypt, focusing on sector of provision (public versus private), and the content and equity of this care, to inform future policies for improving maternal and newborn health.
METHODS: We used Demographic and Health surveys (DHS) conducted in Egypt in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2014 to explore national and regional trends in ANC. To assess content of care, we calculated the percentage of ANC users who reported receiving seven ANC components measured in DHS in 2014.
RESULTS: During the period under consideration, the percentage of women in need of ANC who received facility-based ANC increased from 42 to 90%, the majority of which was private-sector ANC. The mean number of ANC visits among ANC users increased over time from 7.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 7.1-7.9) in 1991-1995 to 9.7 (95%CI 9.6-9.9) in 2010-2014. In 2010-2014, 44% of women using public ANC reported eight or more visits compared to 71% in private ANC. In the same period, 24% of ANC users received all seven care components. This percentage ranged from 10% of women reporting fewer than four ANC visits to 29% of women reporting eight or more. The poorest ANC users received all seven measured components of care less often than the wealthiest (20% versus 28%, p-value< 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Egypt's improvements in ANC coverage were characterized by decreasing reliance on public services and a rising number of ANC visits. However, despite rising ANC coverage, less than a third of women received the seven essential ANC components measured at least once during pregnancy, with differences between poorer and wealthier women. Policymakers need to ensure that high ANC coverage translates into equity-focused interventions targeting ANC quality. Further research needs to support this effort by assessing the determinants behind poor quality of ANC and evaluating potential interventions.
- Antenatal care
- care quality
- Demographic and Health survey
- maternal health
- effective coverage
- MATERNAL MORTALITY