Community perspectives of barriers indigenous women face in accessing maternal health care services in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
AuthorAkter, S; Davies, K; Rich, JL; Inder, KJ
Source TitleEthnicity and Health
PublisherROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sAkter, Shahinoor
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsAkter, S., Davies, K., Rich, J. L. & Inder, K. J. (2020). Community perspectives of barriers indigenous women face in accessing maternal health care services in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. ETHNICITY & HEALTH, https://doi.org/10.1080/13557858.2020.1862766.
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OBJECTIVES: Bangladesh has achieved notable success in improving maternal health by increasing women's access to good quality and low-cost maternal health care (MHC) services. However, the health system of Bangladesh has earned criticism for not ensuring equitable MHC access for all women, particularly for Indigenous women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Little is known about Indigenous communities' perspectives on these inequalities in MHC service access in the CHT. Therefore, this study aimed to explore Indigenous communities' perspectives on challenges and opportunities for improving MHC service access in the CHT. DESIGN: This qualitative descriptive study was conducted in two sub-districts of Khagrachhari between September 2017 and February 2018. Eight Indigenous key informants from three Indigenous communities (Chakma, Marma and Tripura) were recruited via snowballing and purposive techniques and participated in face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. Key informants comprised community leaders and health care providers. Data were analysed thematically using Nvivo12 software. RESULTS: Findings suggest that distance, poor availability of resources and infrastructure, lack of community engagement in the design of health interventions, Indigenous cultural beliefs, misconceptions about MHC services, and maltreatment from health care providers were the key barriers to accessing MHC services; all are interconnected. Indigenous women faced humiliation and maltreatment from MHC staff. Failure to provide a culturally-safe environment suggests a lack of cultural competency among health staff, including Indigenous staff. CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that cultural competency training for all health care providers is needed to improve cultural appropriateness and accessibility of services. Refresher training and undisrupted supply of basic MHC services for front-line care providers will benefit the entire community and will likely be cost-effective for the government. Designing health programmes through extensive community consultation is essential.
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