Inequalities in institutional delivery uptake and maternal mortality reduction in the context of cash incentive program, Janani Suraksha Yojana: results from nine states in India

Bharat Randive, Miguel San Sebastian, Ayesha De Costa, Lars Lindholm
Social Science & Medicine 2014, 123: 1-6
Proportion of women giving birth in health institutions has increased sharply in India since the introduction of cash incentive program, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) in 2005. JSY was intended to benefit disadvantaged population who had poor access to institutional care for childbirth and who bore the brunt of maternal deaths. Increase in institutional deliveries following the implementation of JSY needs to be analysed from an equity perspective. We analysed data from nine Indian states to examine the change in socioeconomic inequality in institutional deliveries five years after the implementation of JSY using the concentration curve and concentration index (CI). The CI was then decomposed in order to understand pathways through which observed inequalities occurred. Disparities in access to emergency obstetric care (EmOC) and in maternal mortality reduction among different socioeconomic groups were also assessed. Slope and relative index of inequality were used to estimate absolute and relative inequalities in maternal mortality ratio (MMR). Results shows that although inequality in access to institutional delivery care persists, it has reduced since the introduction of JSY. Nearly 70% of the present inequality was explained by differences in male literacy, EmOC availability in public facilities and poverty. EmOC in public facilities was grossly unavailable. Compared to richest division in nine states, poorest division has 135 more maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010. While MMR has decreased in all areas since JSY, it has declined four times faster in richest areas compared to the poorest, resulting in increased inequalities. These findings suggest that in order for the cash incentive to succeed in reducing the inequalities in maternal health outcomes, it needs to be supported by the provision of quality health care services including EmOC. Improved targeting of disadvantaged populations for the cash incentive program could be considered.

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