Maternal mortality is a serious public health concern in Bangladesh. However, most deaths could be prevented through proper and timely care seeking and adequate management. Unfortunately, fewer than half of pregnant women in Bangladesh seek antenatal care, and only one in eight receive delivery care from medically trained providers. The specific objectives of this research are to examine the socioeconomic differentials of maternity care seeking, and to determine whether accessibility of health services reduces the socioeconomic differentials in maternity care seeking. A multi-level logistic regression method is employed to analyse longitudinal data collected from a sample of 1019 women from all over Bangladesh. The study finds significant socioeconomic disparities in both antenatal and delivery care seeking. Service accessibility, however, significantly reduces the socioeconomic differentials in delivery care seeking. Services need to be made accessible to reduce the inequality in maternity care seeking between rich and poor, empowered and non-empowered.
Journal of Biosocial Science (2008) 40: 19-33 [doi: 10.1017/S002193200700258]