Experiences of women using reproductive health services in Egypt: one health system in two governorates

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Abstract:

Aim: To examine and compare the viewpoints of women who have sought reproductive health care at units applying the health sector reform programme in two governorates, Menoufia and Alexandria, in Egypt.

Methods: A two-stage cluster sampling method was used in which four health units were randomly selected from these two governorates. Cluster sampling was again used to select households from the village where each selected health unit was situated. Women who had used clinic services for reproductive health care during the three months preceding the study were interviewed at home.

Results: Users came for treatment at the units mainly because of convenience and close proximity rather than for the quality of the services offered. Application of the system of booking appointments was found to be different in the two study governorates. Each governorate applied different systems for registering users with physicians. The freedom to choose the physician was missing from the programme. Many basic reproductive health questions were not asked and investigations not performed during the encounter with the physician.

Conclusions: Although both governorates are supposed to be following the same health system with the same guidelines, findings have shown that the system varied in its application in many instances. The different rates of client turnout in the two governorates, together with complaints of long waiting times, difficulty in appointment booking, the lack of seating facilities in waiting areas, lack of choice of provider and/or forced registration with physicians according to lists assigned at district level, are all problems that should be further investigated if the needs of reproductive health service users are to be addressed. Physicians should accurately follow the examination guidelines set by the programme.

Keywords: EGYPT; HEALTH SECTOR REFORM PROGRAMME; QUALITY; REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Professor, The American University in Cairo, Social Research Center and Professor, Cairo University, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Department of Statistics, Cairo, Egypt. hzaky@aucegypt.edu 2: Chairperson, The Egyptian Society for Population Studies and Reproductive Health (ESPSRH) 3: Research Program Officer, The Egyptian Society for Population Studies and Reproductive Health (ESPSRH)

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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