Background: Understanding the barriers that women in Haiti face to giving birth at a health facility is important for improving coverage of facility delivery and reducing persistently high maternal mortality. We linked health facility survey data and population survey data to assess the role of the obstetric service environment in affecting women's use of facility delivery care.
Methods: Data came from the 2012 Haiti Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the 2013 Haiti Service Provision Assessment (SPA) survey. DHS clusters and SPA facilities were linked with their geographic coordinate information. The final analysis sample from the DHS comprised 4,921 women who had a live birth in the 5 years preceding the survey. Service availability was measured with the number of facilities providing delivery services within a specified distance from the cluster (within 5 kilometers for urban areas and 10 kilometers for rural areas). We measured facility readiness to provide obstetric care using 37 indicators defined by the World Health Organization. Random-intercept logistic regressions were used to model the variation in individual use of facility-based delivery care and cluster-level service availability and readiness, adjusting for other factors.
Results: Overall, 39% of women delivered their most recent birth at a health facility and 61% delivered at home, with disparities by residence (about 60% delivered at a health facility in urban areas vs. 24% in rural areas). About one-fifth (18%) of women in rural areas and one-tenth (12%) of women in nonmetropolitan urban areas lived in clusters where no facility offered delivery care within the specified distances, while nearly all women (99%) in the metropolitan area lived in clusters that had at least 2 such facilities. Urban clusters had better service readiness compared with rural clusters, with a wide range of variation in both areas. Regression models indicated that in both rural and nonmetropolitan urban areas availability of delivery services was significantly associated with women's greater likelihood of using facility-based delivery care after controlling for other covariates, while facilities' readiness to provide delivery services was also important in nonmetropolitan urban areas.
Conclusion: Increasing physical access to delivery care should become a high priority in rural Haiti. In urban areas, where delivery services are more available than in rural areas, improving quality of care at facilities could potentially lead to increased coverage of facility delivery.