Socio-cultural determinants of women's health: An analysis of maternal health services for women aged 15–49 years in Zimbabwe

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Bursa Uludağ University, SOSYAL BİLİMLER ENSTİTÜSÜ, Turkey

Approval Date: 2020

Thesis Language: Turkish

Student: Ronald Musizvingoza



Maternal health is an important public health problem in most developing countries. The maternal mortality rate in developing countries is approximately 15 times higher than in developed countries. In Zimbabwe, one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rate, 650 women die for every 100,000 live births. This study aimed to examine social-cultural factors and how they affect the access and utilisation of maternal health care services among rural women in Zimbabwe. The qualitative research is based on social constructivism and critical theoretical perspectives. Twenty-seven semi-structured in-depth interviews and five focus group interviews were conducted with women at four rural health facilities in the rural district of Makoni in Zimbabwe. Interview data was supported by analysis of policy documents, observations and interviews with nurses, village health workers and traditional midwives. The data were analyzed through thematic analysis with comprehensive coding processes. Findings revealed that religious and cultural beliefs and practices, intrafamilial cultural dynamics, social and physical environment, quality perceptions, poorly organized health system and poor policy practices affect the use of maternal health services among women in rural areas. The study emphasizes the importance of paying particular attention to socio-cultural factors and their influence on healthcare utilisation. Policies and programs should address religious and cultural construction of maternal health knowledge, beliefs and practices of local communities, family dynamics that sustain women's weakness, perceptions of quality of care and poor health care systems. On the other hand, the government should provide a favourable policy environment and strengthen the health system so that it can meet the needs of the local people.