Htun, Nang Mie Mie, Zar Lwin Hnin, and Win Khaing. 2019. Empowerment and Barriers to Health Care Access among Currently Married Women: Secondary Data Analysis of the 2015-16 Myanmar Demographic and Health Survey. DHS Working Paper No. 146. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF.
Objectives: The lives of women in low-income countries are characterized by exclusion, which is reflected in poor access to basic health care and services. Women’s health outcomes are influenced by this lack of access to health care and women’s inability to make their own decisions. Myanmar’s 2014 census reported that the country’s maternal mortality ratio is the second highest among Southeast Asian countries and that a majority of maternal deaths occurred at home. This study analyzed the association between empowerment among currently married women in Myanmar and barriers in assessing health care.
Setting: 2015-16 Myanmar Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) data, which included all 15 regions of Myanmar
Participants: 7,759 eligible currently married women age 15-49
Results: A total of 47.6% of currently married women in Myanmar had barriers to accessing health care. The lower the extent of women’s empowerment, the more barriers the women experienced in accessing health care. Women with medium and high empowerment scores were less likely to experience barriers in accessing health care compared to women with low scores (OR=0.85, 95% CI 0.73-0.98) (OR=0.55, 95% CI 0.47-0.65) respectively. Women who lived in rural areas were more likely to encounter barriers in accessing health care than those who lived in urban areas (OR=1.41, 95% CI 1.15-1.72). Most regions showed a 27%-77% reduction in the odds of having barriers to accessing health care compared to Kachin State. The women who lived in Chin State were more likely than those in Kachin State to face barriers to accessing health care (OR=1.84, 95% CI 1.38-2.46).
Conclusion: Women’s empowerment and regions in Myanmar were important determinants of access to health care, especially in the rural areas. Problems in accessing health care were lower for women age 35 and over, those who had an educated husband, those who had a husband with a white-collar job, and those living with an extended family.