Background: Utilization of maternal health services is associated with improved maternal and neonatal health outcomes. Considering high level of maternal mortality, understanding the factors affecting maternal health use is crucial. Financial constraints are one of the major factors contributing to lack of access to quality maternal healthcare services for mothers in Kenya. The government introduced Free Maternal Care (FMC) services policy in all public health facilities. The policy is premised on the notion that financial barriers are one of the most important constraints to equitable access and use of skilled maternal and child healthcare.
Objectives: The main objective of the study is to study the impact of the free maternal care policy on the utilization of maternal health care services in the country. The data collected will also be used to determine if the policy has had any effect on maternal mortality rates.
Method: The study will be divided into two parts; the qualitative analysis and a pre-post longitudinal study. The qualitative analysis will identify challenges in the implementation of free maternal health care and provide insight into changes in trend and seasonality. The longitudinal ecological study will look into utilization and consumption of selected resources associated with provision of maternal care. Data of two years before and after the introduction of free maternal health care services will be compared. Time series analysis will be conducted as a main approach of analysis.
Expected outcomes: This study will help the government and other stakeholders to assess the short term benefits of the policy. This will further help to inform the Ministry of Health (MOH) of other factors that contribute to increase Maternal Mortality Rate. It will also ascertain the sustainability of the policy and where it needs to be strengthened.
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