Risk screening, emergency care, and lay concepts of complications during pregnancy in Chiapas, Mexico
Maternal morbidity and mortality are widespread in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state, as in many developing regions. Globally, the utility of three approaches to addressing such problems has been debated: (a) obstetric risk screening (i.e. screening women for risk during pregnancy and channeling those at risk to preventive care); (b) emergency obstetric care (i.e. identifying complications during pregnancy or birth and providing prompt effective treatment); and (c) combined risk screening and emergency care. Unaddressed to date in peer-reviewed journals are the lay perceptions of complications and risk that precede and incite the quest for obstetric care in Mexico. High incidence of maternal mortality in Chiapas, exacerbated by the predominantly rural, highly indigenous, geographically dispersed, and economically marginalized nature of the state's southern Border Region, prompted us to conduct 45 open-ended interviews with a convenience sample of women and their close relative/s, including indigenous and non-indigenous informants in urban and rural areas of four municipalities in this region. Interviews suggest that none of the three approaches is effective in this context, and we detail reasons why each approach has fallen short. Specific obstacles identified include that (1) many women do not access adequate prenatal screening care on a regular basis; (2) emergency obstetric care in this region is severely circumscribed; and (3) lay notions of pregnancy-related risk and complications contrast with official clinical criteria, such that neither clinical nor extra-clinical prenatal monitoring encompasses the entire range of physical and social risk factors and danger signs. Findings reported here center on a rich description of the latter: lay versus clinical criteria for risk of antepartum complication.
Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5 (March)
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