Identifying inequities in maternal and child health through risk stratification to inform health systems strengthening in Northern Togo

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: In Togo, substantial progress in maternal and child health is needed to reach global development goals. To better inform clinic and community-based health services, this study identifies factors associated with maternal and child health care utilization in the Kara region of Northern Togo. Methods: We conducted a population-representative household survey of four health clinic catchment areas of 1,075 women of reproductive age in 2015. Multivariable logistic regression was used to model individual and structural factors associated with utilization of four maternal and child health services. Key outcomes were: facility-based delivery, maternal postnatal health check by a health professional within the first six weeks of birth, childhood vaccination, and receipt of malaria medication for febrile children under age five within 72 hours of symptom onset. Results: 83 percent of women who gave birth in the last 2 years delivered at a health facility. In adjusted models, the strongest predictor of facility delivery in the rural catchment areas was proximity to a health center, with women living under three kilometers having 3.7 (95% CI 1.7, 7.9) times the odds of a facility birth. Only 11 percent of women received a health check by a health provider at any time in the postnatal period. Postnatal health checks were less likely for women in the poorest households and for women who resided in rural areas. Children of polygamous mothers had half the odds of receiving malaria medication for fever within 72 hours of symptom onset, while children with increased household wealth status had increased odds of childhood vaccination and receiving treatment for malaria. Conclusion: Our analysis highlights the importance of risk stratification analysis to inform the delivery and scope of maternal and child health programs needed to reach those with the least access to care.