Improving women’s access to quality reproductive health services

Improving the quality of care provided in the reproductive health setting can lead to the provision of better care, increased access to and use of care, and improved health outcomes. Efforts to improve the quality of reproductive health care are especially critical in countries where women experience high rates of HIV, unplanned pregnancy, and maternal mortality. Though a number of indicators have been developed to measure quality of reproductive health care, it is unclear how responsive these indicators are to women’s priorities and needs; gathering the perspectives of users of health services is a critical component of ensuring the services meet users’ needs, and is particularly important for generating improvements in reproductive health services.

In 2014, Ibis embarked on a project to ensure quality of care indicators for reproductive health services are in tune with women’s priorities and needs. The project included: 1) A systematic review of current quality of care indicators for reproductive health care and 2) Focus group discussions with women in Ghana and South Africa.

The women in our focus groups identified many indicators to be prioritized, including time spent at the facility, adequate equipment, and structures for reporting about quality of care, among others. We concluded that in both countries, structure and process indicators are more frequently cited as priority issues than indicators of access to facilities or safe abortion services. More research and interventions should address and evaluate ways to improve client-provider interactions; provider skills and knowledge; and client and community SRH knowledge, with a focus on safe abortion