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Maternal and infant health in urban and rural areas in Morocco: Analysis of the preliminary results of the National Survey on Population and Family Health (EPSF 2011)

Author(s): Abdesslam Boutayeb | Wiam Boutayeb | Mohamed E. N. Lamlili

Journal: Health
ISSN 1949-4998

Volume: 04;
Issue: 08;
Start page: 549;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Health Equity | Gender | Rural | Urban | Indicators | Maternal | Infant

Background: The last Moroccan population and family health survey (EPSF 2011) was carried out between November 2010 and March 2011. The final report and the whole database are not yet accessible while a preliminary report was released early March 2012. The information given so far does not allow for a complete evaluation of the present health situation in Morocco. However, a partial equity analysis can be devoted to the comparison of health indicators in terms of gender and urban-rural gaps. Method: 1) Questionnaires: a household questionnaire dealt with household characteristics, general health, housing condition and anthropometric data for children less than six years of age. A second questionnaire was devoted specifically to ever married women and dealt with their resources, marriage, reproductive health, family planning, AIDS/SIDA, healthcare and nutrition. 2) Data collection: data were collected through the national survey using a three-stage stratified sampling design to select 640 clusters covering the 16 Moroccan regions. A total of 15,577 households were randomly drawn, providing a sample of 75,061 individuals (51.1% females and 48.9% males) for investigation. 3) Analysis: in this short report, we relied only on partial data released by the Ministry of Health in a preliminary report. We used absolute differences and relative ratios to study the evolution of gender and urban-rural gaps on the basis of socioeconomic indicators. Results and Discussion: The Moroccan population seems to be in the last phase of its demographic transition. The total fertility rate decreased from 5.6 children per woman in 1980 to 2.5 in 2011. The mean age of first marriage went from 24 years for men and 17.5 years for women in 1960 to 31.5 years and 26.3 in 2011 for men and women respectively. The age structure is showing a trend of ageing population. Generally, health indicators related to reproductive and women’s health improved noticeably and consequently, maternal and infant mortality also decreased. However, while these achievements are praiseworthy as national averages, they remain insufficient in terms of equitable healthcare and access to health services since there is still a long way to go in order to reduce the huge gender gaps and rural-urban disparities. Conclusion: In this short report, we showed that, as averages, health indicators improved noticeably during the last decade but gender inequality and urban-rural disparities are still challenging health decision makers. Moroccan health decision makers are urged to adopt an equitable health strategy, starting by giving access to data for analysis, monitoring and evaluation.
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