Expansion in the private sector provision of institutional delivery services and horizontal equity: evidence from Nepal and Bangladesh

posted Jul 18, 2014, 8:16 AM by Jeff Knezovich   [ updated Jul 18, 2014, 8:16 AM ]
David R Hotchkiss, Deepali Godha and Mai Do

Wealth-related inequity in the use of maternal healthcare services continues to be a substantial problem in most low- and middle-income countries. One strategic approach to increase the use of appropriate maternal healthcare services is to encourage the expansion of the role of the private sector. However, critics of such an approach argue that increasing the role of the private sector will lead to increased inequity in the use of maternal healthcare services. This article explores this issue in two South Asian countries that have traditionally had high rates of maternal mortality—Nepal and Bangladesh. The study is based on multiple rounds of nationally representative household survey data collected in Nepal and Bangladesh from 1996 to 2011. The methodology involves estimating a concentration index for each survey to assess changes in wealth-related inequity in the use of institutional delivery assistance over time. The results of the study suggest that the expansion of private sector supply of institutional-based delivery services in Nepal and Bangladesh has not led to increased horizontal inequity. In fact, in both countries, inequity was shown to have decreased over the study period. The study findings also suggest that the provision of government delivery services to the poor protects against increased wealth-related inequity in service use.

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