Objectives. We sought to identify characteristics associated with use of skilled birth attendants where health services exist in Afghanistan.
Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional study in all 33 provinces in 2004, yielding data from 617 health facilities and 9917 women who lived near the facilities and had given birth in the past 2 years.
Results. Only 13% of respondents had used skilled birth attendants. Women from the wealthiest quintile (vs the poorest quintile) had higher odds of use (odds ratio [OR] = 6.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.4, 8.9). Literacy was strongly associated with use (OR = 2.5; 95% CI = 2.0, 3.2), as was living less than 60 minutes from the facility (OR = 1.5; 95% CI = 1.1, 2.0) and residing near a facility with a female midwife or doctor (OR = 1.4; 95% CI = 1.1, 1.8). Women living near facilities that charged user fees (OR = 0.8; 95% CI = 0.6, 1.0) and that had male community health workers (OR = 0.6; 95% CI = 0.5, 0.9) had lower odds of use.
Conclusions. In Afghanistan, the rate of use of safe delivery care must be improved. The financial barriers of poor and uneducated women should be reduced and culturally acceptable alternatives must be considered.
American Journal of Public Health (2008) 98 (10) 1849-1856 [DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.123471]