Climatic conditions and seasonal trends can affect population health, but typically, we consider the effect of climate on the epidemiology of communicable diseases. However, climate can also have an effect on access to care, particularly in remote rural areas of low- and middle-income countries. In this study, we investigate associations between the rainy season and the utilization of maternal health services in Mozambique.
We examined patterns in the number of women receiving antenatal care (ANC) and delivering at a health facility for 2012–2019, using data from Mozambique’s Health Management Information Systems. We investigated the association between seasonality (rainfall) and maternal health service utilization (ANC and institutional delivery) at national and provincial level. We fit a negative binomial regression model for institutional delivery and used it to estimate the yearly reduction in institutional deliveries due to the rainy season, with other factors held constant. We used the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to model increases in mortality due to this estimated decrease in institutional delivery associated with the rainy season.
In our national analysis, the rate of ANC visits was 1% lower during the rainy season, adjusting for year and province (IRR = 0.99, 95% CI: 0.96–1.03). The rate of institutional deliveries was 6% lower during the rainy season than the dry season, after adjusting for time and province (IRR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.92–0.96). In provincial analyses, all provinces except for Maputo-Cidade, Maputo-Province, Nampula, and Niassa showed a statistically significantly lower rate of institutional deliveries in the rainy season. None were statistically significantly lower for ANC. We estimate that, due to reductions in institutional delivery attributable only to the rainy season, there were 74 additional maternal deaths and 726 additional deaths of children under the age of 1 month in 2021, that would not have died if the mothers had instead delivered at a facility.