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Vol. 11 No. 1 (2020): Volume 11: Determining Health

Conceptualizing "access" of maternal health services in lower-middle-income countries

January 21, 2020


A considerable number of women die each year worldwide due to preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. The high mortality of women who die from pregnancy-related issues can be attributed to inadequate access of high-quality maternal health services. However, access is a nebulous concept with a compendium of conceptualizations and definitions. In this paper, we discuss the various conceptualizations of access to maternal health services in lower middle-income countries, and compare how issues related to access differ between high- and lower middle-income countries. This discussion informs two priorities that we suggest for researchers conducting health system improvement work in lower middle-income countries: 1) develop a robust understanding of the barriers to access that continue to persist due to cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors, and 2) formulate frameworks and theories specific to lower middle-income countries to guide research.