Utilization of maternal health services among the youth in Kenya
Information on utilization of maternal health services is very vital to a government that is concerned about the welfare of its citizens. The main objective of this study was to examine utilization of maternal health services among the youth in Kenya. The study population consisted of 1232 andl401 women aged 15-24 years who had utilized antenatal and delivery care services respectively covered in the KDHS conducted in 2003. The study variables were level of education, wealth index, maternal age, marital status, place of residence, region of residence, parity, contraceptive use, religion, type of delivery assistance and timing for the first antenatal care visit/check. The technique for data analysis employed was Logistic Regression model. From cross tabulation results, it was established that there were differentials in reporting of the type of delivery assistance sought and the timing for the first antenatal care visit/check across all characteristics of women. Factors found to be significant included; highest education levels, place of residence, religion, wealth index, marital status, parity and contraceptive use. Logistic regression model showed that education, religion, place of residence, region of residence, wealth index and marital status were important determinants of whether a person used skilled delivery assistance at birth and also for early timing for the first antenatal care visit/check. The major conclusion derived from the study findings was that although maternal health care services are available their utilization by the youth was still very low and various socio-economic, demographic and exposure to modern health service factors influenced the youth's utilization of maternal health services. There is thus the need to increase awareness and improve on access to the services such that both rural and urban youth are able to get the services. In terms of further research, there is a need to investigate the unexplained individual and community level factors influencing delivery care and timing for antenatal care. For instance, use of skilled delivery assistance is also determined by the presence of childbirth complications, which this study did not look into. A qualitative study would therefore be particularly important in helping to understand the unexplained socio-economic aspects of delivery care and timing for antenatal care. Further studies in these areas would be useful in the formulation of effective intervention programs for appropriate delivery and antenatal care services in Kenya.