The evaluation of Safe Motherhood programmes has been hampered by difficulties in measuring the preferred outcomes of maternal mortality and morbidity. The need for adequate indicators has led researchers and programme managers alike to resort to indicators of utilization and quality of health services. In this study the authors assess the magnitude of four indicators of use of essential obstetric care (EOC) and one indicator of quality of care in health facilities in three districts in South Kalimantan, Indonesia. The general picture which emerges for South Kalimantan is that the use of obstetric services is low. Even in the more urban district of Banjar where facility-based coverage is highest, fewer than 14% of all deliveries take place in an EOC facility, 2% of expected births are admitted to such a facility with a major obstetric intervention (MOI), and 1% of expected births have an MOI for an absolute maternal indication. The use of facility-based EOC is consistently lower in Barito Kuala compared to the other districts, and the differences persist regardless of the indicators used. In this setting with low utilization rates, general rates of utilization of EOC facilities seem to be as satisfactory an indicator of relative access to EOC as more elaborate indicators specifying the reasons for admission. The inequalities in access to care revealed by the various indicators of use of EOC services may prove to be a more powerful stimulus for change than the widely reported and highly inaccurate accounts of the high levels of maternal mortality.
Ronsmans, C.; Achadi, E.; Sutratikto, G.; Zazri, A.; McDermott, J. Use of hospital data for Safe Motherhood programmes in South Kalimantan, Indonesia. Tropical Medicine and International Health (1999) 4 (7) 514-521. [DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-3156.1999.00429.x]