Utilisation of services along the continuum of maternal healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lubumbashi, DRC: findings from a cross-sectional household survey of women

Anna Galle, Gladys Kavira, Aline Semaan, Françoise Malonga Kaj, Lenka Benova, Abel Ntambue

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OBJECTIVES: The continuum of maternal care along antenatal (ANC), intrapartum and postnatal care (PNC) is fundamental for protecting women's and newborns' health. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the provision and use of these essential services globally. This study examines maternal healthcare utilisation along the continuum during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional study using data collected on a survey of 599 households in Lubumbashi, DRC, using stratified random sampling.

PARTICIPANTS: We included 604 women (15-49 years) who were pregnant between March 2020 and May 2021.

OUTCOME MEASURES: A structured interview involved questions on sociodemographic characteristics, attitudes regarding COVID-19 and maternal service use and cost. Complete continuum of care was defined as receiving ANC 4+ consultations, skilled birth attendance and at least one PNC check for both mother and newborn. Data were analysed in SPSS using descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression.

RESULTS: One-third (36%) of women who gave birth during the COVID-19 pandemic completed the continuum of maternal healthcare. Factors significantly associated with completing the continuum included higher education (aOR=2.6; p<0.001) and positive attitude towards the COVID-19 vaccination (aOR=1.9; p=0.04). Reasons for not seeking maternal care included lack of money and avoiding COVID-19 vaccination.

CONCLUSION: During the COVID-19 pandemic, maternal healthcare seeking behaviours were shaped by vaccine hesitancy and care unaffordability in Lubumbashi. Addressing the high cost of maternal healthcare and vaccine hesitancy appear essential to improve access to maternal healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere069409
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Female
  • Pregnancy
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Humans
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo/epidemiology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Pandemics
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prenatal Care

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