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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 3645415, 8 pages
Research Article

Evaluating Religious Influences on the Utilization of Maternal Health Services among Muslim and Christian Women in North-Central Nigeria

1Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Plot 252 Herbert Macaulay Way, Abuja 900246, Nigeria
2School of Social Work, University of Georgia, 279 Williams Street, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, PMB 3452, Kano 700231, Nigeria
4Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Ibadan, Ibadan 200284, Nigeria
5School of Social Work, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
6Division of Epidemiology and Prevention, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland Baltimore, 725 West Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

Received 31 October 2015; Accepted 18 January 2016

Academic Editor: Kasonde Mwinga

Copyright © 2016 Maryam Al-Mujtaba et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Uptake of antenatal services is low in Nigeria; however, indicators in the Christian-dominated South have been better than in the Muslim-dominated North. This study evaluated religious influences on utilization of general and HIV-related maternal health services among women in rural and periurban North-Central Nigeria. Materials and Methods. Targeted participants were HIV-positive, pregnant, or of reproductive age in the Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa. Themes explored were utilization of facility-based services, provider gender preferences, and Mentor Mother acceptability. Thematic and content approaches were applied to manual data analysis. Results. Sixty-eight (68) women were recruited, 72% Christian and 28% Muslim. There were no significant religious influences identified among barriers to maternal service uptake. All participants stated preference for facility-based services. Uptake limitations were mainly distance from clinic and socioeconomic dependence on male partners rather than religious restrictions. Neither Muslim nor Christian women had provider gender preferences; competence and positive attitude were more important. All women found Mentor Mothers highly acceptable. Conclusion. Barriers to uptake of maternal health services appear to be minimally influenced by religion. ANC/PMTCT uptake interventions should target male partner buy-in and support, healthcare provider training to improve attitudes, and Mentor Mother program strengthening and impact assessment.