In this paper we examine whether it is just the financial cost of maternal healthcare that prevents poor women from utilising free or low-cost government provided healthcare in Dhaka, Bangladesh, or there are other factors at play, in conjunction with poverty. To answer this question, we analyse the perceptions and experiences about the use of maternal health care for childbirth by a group of women residing in poor and lower socio-economic households in Dhaka. Data for this study were collected through in-depth interviews of 34 such women who have already had a child or had become pregnant at least once in the preceding five years. The findings of our analysis suggest that these women have a deeply rooted fear of medical intervention in childbirth for several perceived and practical reasons, including the fear of having to make undocumented payments, unfamiliarity with institutional processes, lack of social and family network support within their neighbourhood, concept of honour and shame [sharam], a culture of silence and inadequate spousal communication on health issues. As a result, even though low-cost health care facilities may be within their reach in terms of physical distance and affordable in terms of financial cost these women and their families are unwilling to deliver their babies at such health facilities. Therefore, in order to allay their perceived fear of hospital-based childbirth, one needs to consider factors other than financial cost and physical distance, and provide these women with factual information and culturally sensitive counselling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study has received funding support from: 1. Funder: AusAID, Australia Leadeship Awards Scholarship, 2010, (student ID: ALA 000778), receipient: Sanzida Akhter 2. Funder: Flinders University, Overseas Field Trip Grant (Ref No: s: SC861/2012), recipient: Sanzida Akhter.
© 2020 Akhter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Labour and delivery
- Health care facilities
- Health care providers
- Maternal health
- Social networks
- Human families