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Geographic access to emergency obstetric services: a model incorporating patient bypassing using data from Mozambique

by on September 20, 2019

Geographic access to emergency obstetric services: a model incorporating patient bypassing using data from MozambiqueIntroduction: Targeted approaches to further reduce maternal mortality require thorough understanding of the geographic barriers that women face when seeking care. Common measures of geographic access do not account for the time needed to reach services, despite substantial evidence that links proximity with greater use of facility services. Further, methods for measuring access often ignore the evidence that women frequently bypass close facilities based on perceptions of service quality. This paper aims to adapt existing approaches for measuring geographic access to better reflect women’s bypassing behaviour, using data from Mozambique.

Methods: Using multiple data sources and modelling within a geographic information system, we calculated two segments of a patient’s time to care: (1) home to the first preferred facility, assuming a woman might travel longer to reach a facility she perceived to be of higher quality; and (2) referral between the first preferred facility and facilities providing the highest level of care (eg, surgery). Combined, these two segments are total travel time to highest care. We then modelled the impact of expanding services and emergency referral infrastructure.

Results: The combination of upgrading geographically strategic facilities to provide the highest level of care and providing transportation to midlevel facilities modestly increased the percentage of the population with 2-hour access to the highest level of care (from 41% to 45%). The mean transfer time between facilities would be reduced by 39% (from 2.9 to 1.8 hours), and the mean total journey time by 18% (from 2.5 to 2.0 hours).

Conclusion: This adapted methodology is an effective tool for health planners at all levels of the health system, particularly to identify areas of very poor access. The modelled changes indicate substantial improvements in access and identify populations outside timely access for whom more innovative interventions are needed.

Access the journal article.

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