Maternal health in rural areas within developing countries is an issue that has many layers. There are many contributing factors to the issue, and in order for improvements to be made, all aspects must be addressed.
One main issue is education of women living in rural areas. Lack of education can mean that women are unaware of what they should be doing to take care of themselves throughout pregnancy, and when they should visit a health professional. “Findings reveal that high illiteracy rates and strong traditions contribute to poor health-seeking behavior and harmful cultural practices among pregnant and nursing mothers” (Ilorin). Often, women have, “ a lack of knowledge about when to access health-care services, which leads to delays in care seeking” (WHO). When women living in rural areas wait to access health-services, often by the time they realize something is wrong, it is too late.
This leads into the next issue, which is distance from health services. In Zambia, a survey, “reported that 57% of women in rural areas regarded distance as a barrier to accessing health care when sick” (WHO). Often, women do not have the resources necessary to get to health facilities, especially in regards to an issue such as pregnancy, which is unpredictable. “In rural areas, a woman with an obstetric emergency may find the closest facility equipped only for basic treatments and education, and she may have no way to reach a regional center where resources exist” (Thaddeus and Maine). Many of the health facilities located in, or near rural areas, only have the necessities, and are not fully prepared to handle all the challenges that come along with delivering babies. This can be problematic if there are complications during a birth.
Distance can create more problems than one. Not only can “long distances can be an actual obstacle to reaching a health facility…they can be a disincentive to even trying to seek care” (Thaddeus and Maine). This means that even in cases where women are aware they should seek help for a pregnancy related issue, they don’t attempt to find care because they know the obstacles they face.
There are a couple of possible solutions to alleviate these problems that affect pregnant mothers around the world. One way is to change the distribution of health facilities to bring care to rural areas that currently lack it. Many development projects run by NGO’s have the goal of reducing maternal mortality in developing nations. If these NGO’s allocated their resources differently, and based projects in rural areas more frequently, there could be more, and better healthcare facilities in rural areas in developing countries.
Another possible solution is to provide better education for women, and other community members living in rural areas in regards to pregnancy and maternal health. In Zambia, “It was suggested that the lack of progress occurred because education was provided only for women and not for the whole community” (Thaddeus and Maine). If entire communities are aware, and better educated, women may benefit more.
Lastly, studies have shown that there are simply not enough healthcare professionals working in africa to meet the needs of the ever growing population. “To meet ambitious goals in improving maternal and child health and reducing AIDS deaths by 2015, Africa needs an additional 800,000 health care workers, a new study has concluded” (Arnquis). Increasing the number of healthcare workers could potentially be a partial solution to the current lack of care in many rural areas in Africa.
Arnquis, Sarah. “800, 000 More Workers Needed in Africa to Meet Health Goals by 2015.” Science. The New York Times, 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/science/11glob.html>.
Ilorin, Abiodun Fagbemi. “Combating high rate of child and maternal mortality.” Guardian Nigeria. 25 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. <http://guardian.ng/features/combating-high-rate-of-child-and-maternal-mortality/>.
Thaddeus, Sereen, and Deborah Maine. “Too Far to Walk: Maternal Mortality in Context.” Social Science & Medicine 38.8 (1 Apr. 1994): 1091–1110. 17 Nov. 2016. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0277953694902267>.
WHO. “Mobilizing communities to improve maternal health: Results of an intervention in rural Zambia.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. <http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/1/13-122721/en/>.