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Maternal Health Practices, Beliefs and Traditions in Southeast Madagascar

JL Morris
S Short
L Robson
MS Andriatsihosena


Contextualising maternal health in countries with high maternal mortality is vital for designing and implementing effective health interventions. A research project was therefore conducted to explore practices, beliefs and traditions around pregnancy, delivery and postpartum in southeast Madagascar. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 256 pregnant women, mothers of young children, community members and  stakeholders; transcripts were analysed to identify and explore  predetermined and emerging themes. A questionnaire was also conducted with 373 women of reproductive age from randomly selected households. Data was analysed using STATA. Results confirmed high local rates of maternal mortality and morbidity and revealed a range of traditional health care practices and beliefs impacting on women’s health seeking  behaviours. The following socio-cultural barriers to health were identified: 1) lack of knowledge, 2) risky practices, 3) delays seeking biomedical care, and 4) family and community expectations. Recommendations include educational outreach and behaviour change communications targeted for women, their partners and family, increased engagement with traditional midwives and healers, and capacity building of formal health service providers. (Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18[3]: 101-117)

Keywords: maternal health, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, Madagascar, socio-cultural

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eISSN: 1118-4841