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Contrast in utilization of maternal and child health services between Himalayan region and rest of India: Evidence from National Family Health Survey (2015–16)
Authors: Akif Mustafa and Chander Shekhar
Source: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth , Volume 21, Article number: 606; DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Maternal health
Service utilization
Country: Asia
Published: SEP 2021
Abstract: Background: Maternal and child health services, like antenatal care, skilled birth attendance and postnatal care, are crucial to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes. Numerous studies have been conducted on the distribution of utilization of maternal and child healthcare (MCH) services in India with respect to socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. But no study has analyzed the utilization of MCH services with a focus on the topography of a given region (hilly/plain). The present study analyzes the utilization of MCH services in the hilly-Himalayan region of India in comparison to the rest of the country. Methods: Data from India’s National Family Health Survey-4 (2015–16), on 190,898 women, was utilized for analysis in the present study. The association between the utilization of MCH services and the topography of the region of residence (hilly/plain) was analyzed by calculating adjusted odds ratios (AOR) with 95% confidence interval (95%CI) and predicted probabilities using a two-level random intercept logistic regression model. Results: It was found that the utilization of MCH services was significantly lower in the hilly regions compared to the plain regions. Women living in hilly areas (AOR: 0.42, 95%CI: 0.39–0.45) had 58% lower odds of receiving skilled birth attendance (SBA) than those living in plain areas. Similarly, the odds of receiving PNC, ANC, and full immunization were also lower in the hilly regions compared to the plain regions. The utilization of MCH services was alarmingly low in the rural-hilly regions. The odds of receiving two tetanus injections before birth were 71% lower for women in the rural-hilly areas (AOR: 0.39, 95% CI: 0.36–43) than those in the rural-plain areas. Predicted probabilities also showed that women in the hilly regions were less likely to receive MCH services compared to their counterparts in the plain regions. Conclusion: Except for the consumption of Iron Folic Acid (IFA) and the utilization of AWC services/ICDS (Integrated Child and Development Services), all other MCH services were significantly underutilized in the hilly regions compared to the plain regions. This calls for the attention of and concentrated efforts by policy makers and stakeholders, with a special focus on the rural-hilly regions. We firmly believe that the results of the present study have important policy implications.