Relationship between implementing interpersonal communication and mass education campaigns in emergency settings and use of reproductive healthcare services: evidence from Darfur, Sudan

Objectives: (1) To examine changes in women’s awareness and utilisation of reproductive healthcare services in emergency settings following provision of interpersonal communication (IPC) and mass education campaigns, and (2) to describe factors associated with reproductive healthcare service use in internally displaced person (IDP) camps. Setting: Three camps containing 88 984 IDPs in Darfur, Sudan. Participants: 640 women aged 15−49 who had experienced pregnancy in the camp during the previous 2 years were enrolled in each of two independent cross-sectional surveys 26 months apart. Interventions: IPC and mass education campaigns where community health workers disseminated information by home/shelter visits, clinic sessions, public meetings and other means to raise awareness and promote reproductive healthcare service use. Primary outcome measures: Awareness of the existence of antenatal care (ANC) and tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccination services, reception of ANC and TT vaccination, place of delivery and use of postnatal care (PNC). Results: The percentage of women who received home visits, and attended in-clinic sessions and public meetings increased from 61.6% to 86.7%, from 43.0% to 68.8%, and from 3.8% to 39.8%, respectively, between the initial and follow-up surveys. More women were aware of ANC (OR 18.6, 95% CI 13.1 to 26.5) and TT vaccination (OR 3.2, 95% CI 2.4 to 4.4) in the follow-up than the initial survey, after multivariable adjustment. More women received ≥3 ANC visits (OR 8.8, 95% CI 6.4 to 12.0) and ≥3 doses of TT (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.9 to 3.3), delivered at a healthcare facility (OR 5.4, 95% CI 4.0 to 7.4) and received a PNC visit (OR 5.5, 95% CI 4.0 to 7.7) in the follow-up than in the initial survey, after multivariable adjustment. Conclusions: Awareness about and utilisation of reproductive healthcare services were higher in the follow-up survey. An integrated IPC and mass education campaign is effective for improving women’s reproductive health in emergency settings.

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