RESEARCH ARTICLE


Women´s Experiences in Accessing Maternal and Child Health Services During the Period of the Armed Conflict in the North of Mali



Filio Degni1, *, Ibrahim D. Amara2, Reija Klemetti3
1 Department of Public Health, University of Turku, Finland
2 Department of Anthropology, University of Bamako, Mali
3 Head of Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit, at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland


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Degni et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health, Lemminkaisenkatu 1, 20520, University of Turku, Finland; Tel: + 358 2 3337626 /+358 440 280758; E-mail: defilio@utu.fi


Abstract

Background:

During the year 2012 armed conflict in the northern regions of Mali, health care services were no longer able to run in the normal way and women’s access to health services became a critical issue in those regions.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to explore the women’s experiences in accessing maternal and child health services during the period of the armed conflict in the north of Mali.

Methodology:

The interviews were conducted with 28 married women between September and October 2013. The women were recruited in Sévaré’s refugee camp and by snowball sampling from the neighborhood village of Waîlirdré.

Results:

27 multiparous women and one childless woman were interviewed. They were all married, between 20 and 56 years old. During the armed conflict, several health facilities were destroyed, the few that could offer some health services were lacking of medicines and personnel. Doctors, nurses and midwives have left. Some pregnant women have had severe complications, or miscarriages. Some died during the delivery at home or in the maternity clinics because they were brought too late. Newborns died during home delivery and also some children less than 5 years old died because of the lack of healthcare services. Some women were abused sexually by the Islamist Jihadists who forced them to submit fundamentalist Islamic rules and prohibited them to access to family planning services. During the armed conflict, women used more traditional medicines for child healthcare. They expressed their fear about their health and that of their children once they have returned home.

Women had difficulties to access to healthcare services in the northern regions of Mali. The atrocities of Islamist Jihadists against the population and the destruction and looting of the healthcare facilities had considerably reduced access to health services during the armed conflict. There is urgent need for women’s and children’s healthcare services in these regions. Programmes to support sexually abused women also need to be the health care priorities.

Keywords: Armed conflict, child health, experiences, maternal health, northern Mali, women.