Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Versie M. Johnson-Mallard

Co-Major Professor

Jason W. Beckstead


Developing countries, Family planning, Maternal Mortality, Postnatal care, Sub-Saharan Africa


Maternal mortality is a huge concern globally leading to more than a quarter of a million deaths every year. Similarly, an estimated 4 million neonates die every year worldwide, contributing to the majority of deaths of under-5 children. The majority of these deaths take place in under-developed countries, and specifically, in the sub-Saharan Africa region. It is evidenced that maternal ill-health and death contribute to the majority of child deaths. Reducing the death of children under 5 years by two thirds and also improving maternal health/reducing maternal death by three quarters between the years 1990 and 2015 are two of the eight aims of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), MDG-4 and MDG-5 respectively. The report on maternal health services in Eritrea, a nation in the sub-Saharan Africa, shows a low utilization of antenatal care, family planning services, and postnatal care. Furthermore, there is insufficient use of skilled assistance at delivery. The purpose of this study was to explore the reproductive health knowledge and practice of women aged 18-49 and the impact of these on infant birth outcomes. Participants were all living in the Central Zone of Eritrea. This study proposed that knowledge of reproductive health is one of the key factors contributing to the health of women in the reproductive age group, and thereby reduction of maternal and child deaths and morbidities. An exploratory cross-sectional study design was implemented in this study using an investigator-designed questionnaire. Data were collected from participants intending to assess awareness on the domains of reproductive health including knowledge of family planning, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), antenatal and postnatal care, importance of vaccinations, and identification of pregnancy/labor danger signs. Data on the most recent birth outcome that took place in the past five years were collected to investigate any existing associations. Findings showed that a majority of participants recognized danger signs and where to seek help in case of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Participants also stated the importance of child vaccination, identified STDs and family planning methods as well. Further, the majority also acknowledged the importance of antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care by skilled personnel. However, a large percentage did not start ANC visits until after the first trimester. Also, a large number of participants did not know when fetal anomalies were most likely to occur or when conception can happen in relation to the menstrual cycle. Looking at birth outcomes, marital status and educational status showed a significant relationship with birth weight, while educational status was further a significant predictor of maturity of fetus at birth. Overall, these findings indicate the need for increased efforts in providing adequate reproductive health education, especially in certain target areas, so that women are better equipped with the necessary basic reproductive health information. This will hopefully contribute to the betterment of maternal health, further leading to a desired birth outcome.

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