Availability and Continuity of Care for Maternal Health Services in the Primary Health Centres in Nnewi, Nigeria (January - March 2010)

Chinomnso C. Nnebue, Uzo E. Ebenebe, Chukwuma B. Duru, Nonye B. Egenti, Obiageli F. Emelumadu, Christian C. Ibeh


Background: In some primary health care settings, even where the health services are not available, provisions are not made to ensure continuity of care. This study aimed to determine
the availability and level of continuity of care for maternal health services in the primary health centers (PHCs) in Nnewi, Nigeria.

Methods: This was a cross‑sectional survey. Using multistage sampling technique, 280 women utilizing maternal health services from four randomly selected public PHCs in Nnewi, Nigeria were chosen for the study. Data collection employed a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Results: The mean ± standard deviation for age of the respondents was 29.2 ± 5.9 years. The facilities studied provided out‑patient services, but the only in‑patient services provided was for women who delivered or those in labor. None of the facilities is equipped to provide even basic essential obstetric care services. None had standardized a protocol for referring clients, referral forms, a transport system, or a community loan scheme in place. Forty‑four (15.7%) women were referred for care outside of the PHCs for the following reasons: Lack of drugs and supplies (9.1%); lack of equipment (90.9%), lack of skilled personnel (45.5%) among others.

Conclusions: This study showed that despite the unavailability of some services, appropriate strategies were not in place to ensure the coherent pattern of services within and between the
PHCs and other levels of care. Delivery to the clients of comprehensive and integrated maternal health services, and efficient referral systems are thus recommended.

Keywords: Availability, level of continuity, maternal health services, Nnewi Nigeria, primary
health care level

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