Evaluations of effective coverage of maternal and child health services: A systematic review.

Oxford University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health Policy and Planning, 2022, 37, (7), pp. 895-914
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Conventionally used coverage measures do not reflect the quality of care. Effective coverage (EC) assesses the extent to which health care services deliver potential health gains to the population by integrating concepts of utilization, need and quality. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of studies evaluating EC of maternal and child health services, quality measurement strategies and disparities across wealth quantiles. A systematic search was performed in six electronic databases [MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL), Scopus, Web of Science and Maternity and Infant Care] and grey literature. We also undertook a hand search of references. We developed search terms having no restrictions based on publication period, country or language. We included studies which reported EC estimates based on the World Health Organization framework of measuring EC. Twenty-seven studies, all from low- and middle-income settings (49 countries), met the criteria and were included in the narrative synthesis of the results. Maternal and child health intervention(s) and programme(s) were assessed either at an individual level or as an aggregated measure of health system performance or both. The EC ranged from 0% for post-partum care to 95% for breastfeeding. When crude coverage measures were adjusted to account for the quality of care, the EC values turned lower. The gap between crude coverage and EC was as high as 86%, and it signified a low quality of care. The assessment of the quality of care addressed structural, process and outcome domains individually or combined. The wealthiest 20% had higher EC of services than the poorest 20%, an inequitable distribution of coverage. More efforts are needed to improve the quality of maternal and child health services and to eliminate the disparities. Moreover, considering multiple dimensions of quality and the use of standard measurements are recommended to monitor coverage effectively.
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