|Type||Journal Article - BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth|
|Title||Perceptions of antenatal iron-folic acid supplements in urban and rural Pakistan: a qualitative study|
In Pakistan, 51% of women are anaemic in pregnancy yet only 44% of women use antenatal iron-folic acid (IFA) supplements. Little information exits on the perception and barriers to the use of IFA supplements during pregnancy in Pakistan. The aim of the study was to understand women and healthcare providers’ perceptions, and to investigate the cultural and behavioural factors influencing the use of antenatal IFA supplements in rural and urban settings of Pakistan.
We conducted 10 focus group discussions with mothers, 10 in-depth interviews with currently pregnant women, 6 in-depth interviews with Lady Health Workers and 4 in-depth interviews with doctors providing antenatal care services. The study was conducted in two districts of Pakistan - district Swabi and Islamabad for rural and urban samples, respectively. Data was collected between August and November 2012.
The majority of women were aware of the perceived benefits of antenatal IFA supplements. However, the rural women had more limited information about the benefits of IFA supplements than the urban women. The facilitating factors for the women’s use of supplements were: they had knowledge of benefits; they had trust in the healthcare providers; the supplements were available; they had the financial capacity to buy them; they felt better after taking these supplements; and they received support from family members. The barriers to the women’s use of supplements were: they forgot to take them; the non-availability of supplements; their limited financial capacity to buy them; the lack of antenatal care services; family members not allowing use of the supplements; not knowing about the benefits or no education; fear or experience of side effects; considering them as contraceptives; and felt better thus stopped.
The coverage of antenatal IFA supplementation can be improved by reducing the barriers related to the use of antenatal IFA supplementation in Pakistan. Interventions focused on providing adequate awareness, good quality counselling, reminder messages, availability of free supplements throughout pregnancy and reducing the side effects should be developed and implemented.
|»||Pakistan - Demographic and Health Survey 2012-2013|