Factors Influencing Maternal Healthcare Seeking in a Highland Region of Madagascar: A Mixed Methods Analysis

Factors Influencing Maternal Healthcare Seeking in a Highland Region of Madagascar: A Mixed Methods Analysis

By: Voahirana Tantely Andrianantoandro, Dolorès Pourette, Olivier Rakotomalala, Henintsoa Joyce Valentina Ramaroson, Rila Ratovoson, Feno M. Jacob Rakotoarimanana
Publication: BMC Pregnancy and ChildbirthJune 2021; 21 (428). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-021-03930-2.



In Madagascar, maternal mortality remains stable and high (426 deaths per 100,000 live births). This situation is mainly due to a delay or lack of use of maternal healthcare services. Problems related to maternal healthcare services are well documented in Madagascar, but little information related to maternal healthcare seeking is known. Thus, this paper aims to identify and analyze the factors that influence the utilization of maternal services, specifically, the use of antenatal care (ANC) during pregnancy and the use of skilled birth attendants (SBAs) at delivery.


We used quantitative and qualitative approaches in the study. Two communes of the Vakinankaratra region, which are located in the highlands, were the settings. Data collection occurred from October 2016 to July 2017. A total of 245 pregnant women were included and followed up in the quantitative survey, and among them, 35 participated in in-depth interviews(IDIs). Logistic regressions were applied to explore the influencing factors of antenatal and delivery healthcare seeking practices through thematic qualitative analysis.


Among the 245 women surveyed, 13.9% did not attend any ANC visits. School level, occupation and gravidity positively influenced the likelihood of attending one or more ANC visits. The additional use of traditional caregivers remained predominant and was perceived as potentially complementary to medical care. Nine in ten (91%) women expressed a preference for delivery at healthcare facilities (HFs), but 61% of births were assisted by a skilled birth attendant (SBA).The school level; the frequency of ANCs; the origin region; and the preference between modern or traditional care influenced the use of SBAs at delivery. A lack of preparation (financial and logistics problems) and women’s low involvement in decision making at delivery were the main barriers to giving birth at HFs.


The use of maternal healthcare services is starting to gain ground, although many women and their relatives still use traditional caregivers at the same time. Relatives play a crucial role in maternal healthcare seeking. It would be necessary to target women’s relatives for awareness-raising messages about ANC and childbirth in healthcare facilities and to support and formalize collaborations between traditional healers and biomedical caregivers.