Despite a significant increase in the skilled birth assisted (SBA) deliveries in India, there are huge gaps in availing maternity care services across social gradients - particularly across states and regions. Therefore, this study applies the spatial-regression model to examine the spatial distribution of SBA across districts of India. Furthermore, the study tries to understand the spatially associated population characteristics that influence the low coverage of SBA across districts of India and its regions.
The study used national representative cross-sectional survey data obtained from the fourth round of National Family Health Survey, conducted in 2015-16. The effective sample size was 259,469 for the analysis. Moran’s I statistics and bivariate Local Indicator for Spatial Association maps were used to understand spatial dependence and clustering of deliveries conducted by SBA coverage in districts of India. Ordinary least square, spatial lag and spatial error models were used to examine the correlates of deliveries conducted by SBA.
Moran’s I value for SBA among women was 0.54, which represents a high spatial auto-correlation of deliveries conducted by SBA over 640 districts of India. There were 145 hotspots for deliveries conducted by SBA among women in India, which includes almost the entire southern part of India. The spatial error model revealed that with a 10% increase in exposure to mass media in a particular district, the deliveries conducted by SBA increased significantly by 2.5%. Interestingly, also with the 10% increase in the four or more antenatal care (ANC) in a particular district, the deliveries conducted by SBA increased significantly by 2.5%. Again, if there was a 10% increase of women with first birth order in a particular district, then the deliveries conducted by SBA significantly increased by 6.1%. If the district experienced an increase of 10% household as female-headed, then the deliveries conducted by SBA significantly increased by 1.4%.
The present study highlights the important role of ANC visits, mass media exposure, education, female household headship that augment the use of an SBA for delivery. Attention should be given in promoting regular ANC visits and strengthening women’s education.