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Research Project on

Utilisation Of Maternal Health Services In Southern India

Researchers: Dr Kannan Navaneetham
Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Anaysis

Dr A Dharmalingam
University of Waikato, New Zealand


This study examines the patterns and determinants of maternal health care utilization across different social settings in south India: in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) carried out during 1992-93 across most states in India are used.

The study focuses on most recent live births to ever-married women that took place during the four years prior to the date of the survey. The logistic regression models have been used to estimate the effect of covariates on the utilization of maternal health services viz., antenatal care, frequency and timing of antenatal visits, tetanus toxoid vaccine, place of delivery and assistance during delivery.

Results show that utilization of maternal health care services is highest in Kerala followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Utilization of maternal health care services is not only associated with the range of reproductive, socio-economic, cultural and program factors but also with state and type of health service. The interstate differences in utilization could be partly due to variations in the implementation of maternal health care program as well as differences in availability and accessibility between the states.

In the case of antenatal care, there was no significant rural-urban gap, thanks to the role played by the multipurpose health workers posted in the rural areas to provide maternal health care services. The findings of this study provide insights for planning and implementing appropriate maternal health service delivery programs in order to improve the health and well-being of both mother and child.


Navaneetham, K. and Dharmalingam, A. (2002) ‘Utilization of maternal health care services in Southern India’, in Social Science & Medicine 55: 1849-1869



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