An Examination of the Barriers to the Uptake of Healthcare Services During Pregnancy in Rural Tanzania

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Ohio State University

Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


The maternal mortality rate in Tanzania is currently estimated as 950 to 1,300 per 100,000 depending on the area, with a lifetime risk of maternal death of 1 in 24 (WHO, 2008) Prenatal care and having a skilled attendant present during delivery significantly reduces maternal mortality by identifying complications early and having someone present to deal with new problems as they occur (World Health Organization [WHO], 2008; Department of Reproductive Health Research [DRHR] WHO, 2008). The primary question of this study was: Which, if any, of the barriers to the use of healthcare services during pregnancy commonly cited in the literature are present in the Singida Region of Tanzania? Interviews were conducted with women who were or have been pregnant (N=67) as well as with local healthcare workers (N=9). The data collected provides a picture of the major economic, social, and infrastructure-related barriers that prevent pregnant women from receiving quality antenatal care and delivering at the regional public hospital. The most commonly cited barriers were the lack of healthcare centers in many areas and to a lack of transportation to the existing healthcare centers, which are often located at extreme distances. National and regional data disaggregation allow for the identification of variation in the barriers to prenatal care uptake and development of appropriate solutions. It is important to examine the reasons women in rural Tanzania do not take advantage of antenatal services so changes can be made to encourage increased uptake and thereby improve maternal health. The results of this project will contribute to healthcare policy for the study region that is more responsive to the needs of the women in that area. This in turn will lead to a reduction in maternal mortality and infant mortality.


1st place in Social and Behavioral Science at the 2010 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum


pregnancy, Tanzania, birth culture, barriers to healthcare, medical anthropology, maternal mortality