She may reach a facility but will still die! An analysis of quality of public sector maternal health services, District Multan, Pakistan

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Objective: To assess the availability, utilization and functional capacity of the public health delivery system in terms of human resources, equipment, supplies and health provider knowledge regarding management of obstetric complications. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in March 2003 for Multan's public health delivery system. A complete inventory of equipment, supplies, drugs, staff availability and knowledge of obstetric complications management were assessed. Results: The number and distribution of public sector facilities serving a population of 3,2 million was well beyond the minimum requirement for basic obstetric care but fell short for comprehensive Emergency Obstetrical Care (EmOC). Utilization patterns were skewed to the tertiary facility for normal and complicated deliveries. Partograms were not available, magnesium sulphate was only available at the tertiary facility, while basic supplies like iron and folate tablets, broad spectrum antibiotics, oxytocics, gloves and sutures were not available at primary or secondary facilities. Knowledge scores regarding management of obstetric complications were less than average, especially among nurses at basic or comprehensive EmOC facilities, intensity of labour pains (nurses 59%) at basic EmOC facility and cervical dilatation by doctors at basic and comprehensive facilities were the most frequent responses for monitoring in labour. Conclusion: Strengthening the four interlinked health system elements - human resources, access to use and quality of services is essential though not sufficient.