Background Men could influence women's access to reproductive health services and obstetric outcomes. Migrant workers are considered to be a disadvantaged and socially excluded community in India. Public health services hardly reach them. The main objective of the present study is to examine the knowledge regarding reproductive health services and roles played by male migrant workers in three different phases of reproductive cycle – antenatal, natal and postnatal care – of their spouses.
Methods Semi-structured interviews with 280 male migrant workers in Jindal Steel Power and Limited (JSPL), Odisha, provided the primary data. Cross tabulation, percentiles and chi-square were done using SPSS software to assess factors affecting reproductive healthcare services.
Findings Around 80% (226 out of 280) of the male migrant workers did not have any knowledge regarding antenatal care (ANC) services. Nearly 90% (251 out of 280) of the workers did not know about natal care and 96% (269 out of 280) of the respondents did not have any knowledge regarding postnatal care services. The level of education was found to be highly significant (p=.0001) with the kind of health services availed, like ANC registration, ultrasonography, Tetanus Toxoid, adopting balanced dietary pattern and use of iron and folic acid tablets. Income level, place of residence and availability of health facilities are positively related with better achievement of reproductive health outcome. Nearly 60% (141 out of 237) male migrant workers' spouses returned to their native places for receiving ANC services. About 65% (181 out of 280) respondents perceived that migration is an important factor in determining the role of male migrant worker in their spouse's ANC. About 36% of the male migrant workers' spouses preferred home delivery due to lack of healthcare institutions in the place of migration. Receiving health care from public facilities and community health workers is a challenge for migrants. Identity crisis, local myths, food taboos and cultural belief in ethnic remedies were found to be the major barriers for availing public health services.
Discussion and recommendations The government is taking several measures towards improving reproductive health of the population. However, such exclusive healthcare services are not able to penetrate every section of the society. The reproductive health status of the migrant population is found to be in a deplorable condition due to lack of accessible, available and affordable health services in the place of migration. Today, migrants still largely depend on their place of origin for healthcare services. Government should reach out to those with unmet needs; the concept of mobile clinics could be a way forward. As identity issues hinder access to reproductive health services, migrants should be provided with legitimate identity cards at their place of work.
No competing interest.
- migrant workers
- reproductive health
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