13.6.4  Causes of delay in getting emergency help

There are three types of delay, all of which can be serious for the mother and her baby:

  • Delay in healthcare-seeking behaviour (delay in deciding to seek medical care),
  • Delay in reaching a health facility
  • Delay in getting the proper treatment.

These delays have many causes, including logistical and financial constraints, and lack of knowledge about maternal and newborn health issues. For example, the woman, her family or neighbours may feel that only the husband or another respected family member can give permission for the woman to send for you, or get urgent medical care at a health facility. But delay could threaten her life and that of her baby.

Delays in deciding to seek care may be caused by failure to recognise symptoms of complications, cost considerations, previous negative experiences with the healthcare system and transportation difficulties. Delays in reaching care may be created by the distance from a woman’s home to a facility or healthcare provider, the condition of roads, or a lack of emergency transportation.

A Health Extension Worker is sat beneath a tree with three women discussing why three women died during childbirth the previous year. One of the women is responding, she says that more women die in the storm season because the road is flooded.

Delays in receiving appropriate care may result from shortages of supplies and basic equipment, a lack of healthcare personnel, and poor skills of healthcare providers. The causes of these delays are common and predictable. However, in order to address them, women and families and the communities, providers and facilities that surround them must be prepared in advance and ready for rapid emergency action.

13.6.3  Complication readiness and emergency planning

13.6.5  Making a referral