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Where do delays occur when women receive antenatal care? A client flow multi-site study in four health facilities in Nigeria

Frida E Okonofua
Rosemary N Ogu
Lorretta F Ntoimo
Mohammed Gana
Ola N Okike
Adetoye Durodola
Hadiza S Galadanci


Objectives: The objective of the study was to identify where delays occur when women present for antenatal care in four Nigerian referral hospitals, and to make recommendations on ways to reduce delays in the course of provision of antenatal care in the hospitals.

Design: Prospective observational study

Setting: Four Nigerian (1 tertiary and 3 secondary) Hospitals

Participants: Women who presented for antenatal care.

Interventions: A process mapping. The National Health Service (NHS) Institute Quality and Service Improvement Tool was used for the assessment.
Main outcome measures: The time women spent in waiting and receiving antenatal care in various departments of the hospitals.

Results: Waiting and total times spent varied significantly within and between the hospitals surveyed. Mean waiting and total times spent were longest in the outpatients’ departments and shortest in the Pharmacy Departments. Total time spent was an average of 237.6 minutes. χ2= 21.074; p= 0.0001

Conclusion: There was substantial delay in time spent to receive care by women seeking routine antenatal health services in the four secondary and tertiary care hospitals. We recommend managers in health facilities include the reduction of waiting times in the strategic plans for improving the quality of antenatal care in the hospitals. This should include the use of innovative payment systems that excludes payment at time of service delivery, adoption of a fast-track system such as pre-packing of frequently used commodities and the use of new tech informational materials for the provision of health education.

Funding: The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, World Health Organization, Geneva; Protocol IDA65869.

Keywords: Delays; Waiting time; antenatal; Hospitals; Women; Maternity care; Process mapping; Nigeria.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560