Equity dimensions of the availability and quality of reproductive, maternal and neonatal health services in Zambia

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Objective: To assess how quality and availability of reproductive, maternal, neonatal (RMNH) services vary by district wealth and urban/rural status in Zambia.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of data from the Millennium Development Goal Acceleration Initiative baseline assessment of 117 health facilities in 9 districts. Quality was assessed through a composite score of 23 individual RMNH indicators, ranging from 0 to 1. Availability was evaluated by density of providers and facilities. Districts were divided into wealth groups based on the multidimensional poverty index (MPI). Relative inequity was calculated using the concentration index for quality indicators (positive favours rich, negative favours poor). Multivariable linear regression was performed for independent variable composite quality indicator using MPI, urban/rural, and facility level of care as independent variables.
Results: 13 hospitals, 85 health centres and 19 health posts were included. The RMNH composite quality indicator was 0.64. Availability of facilities and providers was universally low. The concentration index for the composite quality indicator was -0.015 [-0.043, 0.013], suggesting no clustering to favour either rich or poor districts. Rich districts had the highest absolute numbers of health facilities and providers, but lowest numbers per facility per 1 000 000 population. Urban districts had slightly better service quality, but not availability. Using regression analysis, only facility level of care was significantly associated with quality outcome.
Conclusions: Composite quality of RMNH services did not vary by district wealth, but was slightly higher in urban districts. The availability data suggest that the higher population in richer districts outpaces health infrastructure.


Tropical Medicine and International Health