Gender inequalities influence the utilization of maternal health services in Vietnam, but little research has been published. This study, therefore, aimed to explore the association between gender inequalities and women's utilization of maternal health services in Vietnam.
The study was conducted in 8 provinces in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam during August 2013 to May 2014. A total of 907 women who delivered a year prior to the date of interview participated in the study. A multiple logistic regression model was used to examine the association between gender inequalities (including sociodemographic determinants of health) and utilization of 4 or more antenatal care (ANC4+) services, institutional delivery, and ever used contraceptive methods.
The utilization rate of maternal health services was varied, from 53.9% for ANC4+ to 87.7% for ever used a contraceptive method and 97% for institutional delivery. Ethnicity was identified as the most influential variable out of all sociodemographic determinants of health. Regarding gender inequalities, couple communication was the only variable having significant association with women's utilization of maternal health services.
Women's equal role within context of their daily life and relations with their husbands (discussing maternal care with husband and having equal income to husband) supported their use of maternal health services. Therefore, there should be concerted efforts from all relevant stakeholders including the health system to focus on disadvantaged women in planning and delivery of maternal health services, especially to ethnic minority women. Male involvement strategy should be implemented to promote maternal health care, especially during the prenatal and postpartum period. To provide more culturally sensitive and right-based approaches in delivery of maternal health services to disadvantaged women in Vietnam, interventions are recommended that promote male involvement, that is, to engage men in service delivery to adapt and ensure the most appropriate and effective maternal health care.