Utilisation of reproductive health services in rural Vietnam; are there equal opportunities to plan and protect pregnancies?
STUDY OBJECTIVES: To describe the utilisation of reproductive health services (family planning, antenatal care, and delivery services) and the socioeconomic determinants for utilisation of health services. DESIGN: This was a cross sectional survey, using a multistage sampling technique. SETTING: Tien Hai district, Thai Binh Province, Vietnam. Altogether 1132 mothers with children under 5 years of age were interviewed about antenatal, delivery, and family planning services utilisation during a five year period (1987-92). MAIN RESULTS: Seventy per cent of the women used contraceptive methods, with the intrauterine device being the most common. The use of the intrauterine device was positively associated with the number of children alive but not with other sociodemographic factors in the mothers. Thirty per cent of the women had attended an antenatal clinic for check ups during their last pregnancy. It was found that mothers with fewer deliveries, higher education, and who were Buddhist or of no religion had utilised antenatal services more frequently than the others. Seventy five per cent of the mothers in this study had been assisted by health professionals at their last delivery. Those mothers with fewer deliveries, higher education, who were Buddhist or had no religion, and had sufficient to eat were more likely to have their births attended by health professionals. CONCLUSIONS: In spite of a relatively high education level in the population and services which are generally available, there was an under utilisation of antenatal and delivery care and there was no equal opportunity for different groups of mothers to use these services. Family planning services were, however, frequently used and were used to the same extent by different groups of mothers. Except for abortion, alternatives to the intrauterine device method were rarely available. If pregnancies are to be protected in an efficient way in rural Vietnam, reproductive health care must be strengthened and efforts should be made to reach the women who are not using these services at present.