Maternal health and care-seeking behavior in Bangladesh: Findings from a national survey

Michael A. Koenig, Kanta Jamil, Peter K. Streatfield, Tulshi Saha, Ahmed Al-Sabir, Shams El Arifeen, Ken Hill, Yasmin Haque

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Context: Although the reduction of maternal mortality levels is a key Millennium Development Goal, community-based evidence on obstetric complications and maternal care-seeking behavior remains limited in low-resource countries. Methods: This study presents an overview of key findings from the 2001 Bangladesh Maternal Health Services and Maternal Mortality Survey of ever-married women aged 13-49. The survey collected data on the prevalence of obstetric complications, women's knowledge of life-threatening complications, treatment-seeking behavior and reasons for delay in seeking medical care. Results: Bangladeshi women report low but increasing use of antenatal care, as well as low rates of delivery in a health facility or with the assistance of a skilled provider. Although almost half of women reported having one or more complications during pregnancy that they perceived as life threatening, only one in three sought treatment from a qualified provider. More than three-fourths women with the time-sensitive complications of convulsions orexcessive bleeding either failed to seek any treatment or sought treatment from an unqualified provider. The principal reason cited for failing to seek care for life-threatening complications was concern over medical costs, and pronounced socioeconomic disparities were found for maternal care-seeking behavior in both urban and rural Bangladesh. Conclusions: Despite these gaps in access to skilled delivery and effective emergency obstetric care, some progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality levels. Improved obstetric care and declining levels of fertility and unwanted pregnancy may have played critical roles in addressing the maternal health care needs of Bangladeshi women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Family Planning Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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