"We are the ones who should make the decision" - knowledge and understanding of the rights-based approach to maternity care among women and healthcare providers.BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2019 Feb 15; 19(1):42.BP
Experiences and perceptions of poor quality of care is a powerful determinant of utilisation of maternity services. With many reports of disrespect and abuse in healthcare facilities in low-resource settings, women's and healthcare providers' understanding and perception of disrespect and abuse are important in eliminating disrespect and abuse, but these are rarely explored together.
This was a qualitative study assessing the continuum of maternity care (antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care) at the Maternity Unit of Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted separately for mothers attending antenatal clinic and those attending postnatal clinic. For women who accessed intrapartum care services, in-depth interviews were used. Participants were recruited purposively. Key informant interviews were conducted with healthcare providers involved in the delivery of maternal and newborn health services. Topic guides were developed based on the seven domains of the Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) Charter. Data was transcribed verbatim, coded and analysed using the thematic framework approach.
A total of 8 focus group discussions and 9 in-depth interviews involving 64 women and 9 key informant interviews with health care providers were conducted. Important themes that emerged included: the importance of a valued patient-provider relationship as determined by a good attitude and method of communication, the need for more education of women regarding the stages of pregnancy and labour, what happens at each stage and which complications could occur, the importance of a woman's involvement in decision-making, the need to maintain confidentiality when required and the problem of insufficient human resources. Prompt and timely service was considered a priority. Neither women accessing maternity care nor trained healthcare providers providing this care were aware of the RMC Charter.
This study has highlighted the most essential aspects of respectful maternity care from the viewpoint of both women accessing maternity care and healthcare providers. Although RMC components are in place, healthcare providers were not aware of them. There is the need to promote the RMC Charter among both women who seek care and healthcare providers.