This paper investigates the roles played by alternative health practitioners in referral to facilities for maternal care in Bangladesh. In-depth case studies were used to investigate labour experiences, decision-making processes and the roles played by key individuals in deciding to use professional services. Findings show that the commonly used heading of 'traditional birth attendant' is often too broad for programmatic use, as it encompasses a range of individuals with different reasons to work with, or oppose, professional services. It was found that women seek care from multiple non-professional cadres who each have differing services, scopes and linkages to professional care. Policy makers need to understand the roles of different providers and potential links to professional care which can be built upon to encourage the use of professional emergency care for maternal complications in low-income settings.
In: Health Policy and Planning, 22(3), 149-155 pp.