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The effects of geographical accessibility to health facilities on antenatal care and delivery services utilization in Benin: a cross-sectional study
Authors: Mariam Tanou, Takaaki Kishida, Yusuke Kamiya
Source: Reproductive Health, Volume 18, no. 1; DOI:
Topic(s): Antenatal care
Health care utilization
Health equity
Maternal health
Country: Africa
Published: OCT 2021
Abstract: Background: The world is making progress toward achieving maternal and child health (MCH) related components of the Sustainable Development Goals. Nevertheless, the progress of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is lagging. Geographical accessibility from residence to health facilities is considered a major obstacle hampering the use of appropriate MCH services. Benin, a country where the southern and northern parts belong to different geographical zones, has among the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Adequate use of MCH care is important to save lives of women and their babies. This study assessed the effect of geographical accessibility to health facilities on antenatal care and delivery services utilization in Benin, with an emphasis on geographical zones. Methods: We pooled two rounds of Benin Demographic and Health Surveys (BDHS). The sample included 18,105 women aged 15–49 years (9111 from BDHS-2011/2012 and 8994 from BDHS-2017/2018) who had live births within five years preceding the surveys. We measured the distance and travel time from residential areas to the closest health center by merging the BDHS datasets with Benin’s geographic information system data. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate the effect of geographical access on pregnancy and delivery services utilization. We conducted a propensity score-matching analysis to check for robustness. Results: Regression results showed that the distance to the closest health center had adverse effects on the likelihood of a woman receiving appropriate maternal healthcare. The estimates showed that one km increase in straight-line distance to the closest health center reduces the odds of the woman receiving at least one antenatal care by 0.042, delivering in facility by 0.092, and delivering her baby with assistance of skilled birth attendants by 0.118. We also confirmed the negative effects of travel time and altitude of women’s residence on healthcare utilization. Nonetheless, these effects were mainly seen in the northern part of Benin. Conclusions: Geographical accessibility to health facilities is critically important for the utilization of antenatal care and delivery services, particularly in the northern part of Benin. Improving geographical accessibility, especially in rural areas, is significant for further use of maternal health care in Benin.