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Analysis of the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) findings from the perspective of caste, ethnicity, and regional identity (Bennett et al., 2008) was first conducted only after the third DHS round, which took place in 2006. The final reports in each round of the NDHS present extensive analysis from a gender, age, wealth, and geographic perspective but do not disaggregated the data from the perspective of caste, ethnicity, and regional identity. However, studies by Bennett and colleagues (2008), RTI (2008), and the Nepal Family Health Program II and New ERA (2010) have revealed important differences among caste/ethnic groups, exposing gaps in health services utilization and health outcomes that remain despite overall progress toward many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Such studies provide a valuable opportunity to focus policy attention on specific excluded or under-served groups of people.
This paper has two principal objectives. The first is to foster a better understanding of the disparities, in terms of caste, ethnicity, and regional identity, in access to and utilization of health services and in health outcomes by disaggregating the 2011 NDHS data for a selection of maternal and child health services and outcomes. Second, it examines the association of the caste, ethnicity, and regional identity of the respondents with use of selected health services and with health outcomes. Thus, the paper aims to help strengthen the evidence base on existing social disparities as a foundation for policy-making and programmatic decisions in the health sector.