Background: Access factors associated with maternal death are important to understand because they are considered to be an essential measure of women’s health and indicative of the performance of health care systems in any community globally. This study aimed to analyse the access risk factors linked to maternal deaths in Lundazi district of the Eastern Province of Zambia using secondary data obtained from maternal death reviews and delivery registers.
Methods: This was a case-control study with cases being recorded maternal deaths for Lundazi district (n = 100) while controls were randomly selected Lundazi District Hospital deliveries (n = 300) for the period 2010 to 2015. STATA™ (Stata Corporation, Texas, TX, USA) version 12.0 was used to analyse data. Odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals with associated p-values were used to analyse disparities between cases and controls while bivariate and multivariate regression analyses were done to show associations.
Results: The likelihood of experiencing maternal death was 94% less among women who completed their scheduled antenatal care visits than those who did not (OR 0.06, 95% CI = 0.01–0.27, p = < 0.001). Delayed referral associated with maternal deaths and complications were 30% (30) for cases, 12% (37) for controls and 17% (67) for both cases and controls. Long distances, unskilled deliveries were 3%, (15) for both cases and controls with 13% (13) for cases and 1% (2) for controls only.
Conclusion: Antenatal care is important in screening for pre-existing risk conditions as well as complications in early stages of pregnancy that could impact adversely during pregnancy and childbirth. Delay in seeking health care during pregnancy could be minimised if health services are brought closer to the communities to reduce on distances covered by pregnant women in Lundazi. Maternal education appears to influence antenatal health care utilisation because greater knowledge and understanding of the importance of antenatal care might increase the ability to select most appropriate service. Therefore, there is need for Lundazi District Health Office to scale up interventions that motivate women to make at least four scheduled antenatal care visits during pregnancy as recommended by the World Health Organization.