Songyot Pilasant1, Wantanee Kulpeng1, Pitsaphun Werayingyong1*, Nattha Tritasavit1, Inthira Yamabhai1,
Yot Teerawattananon1, Sangay Wangmo2 and Sripen Tantivess1

Background: The Maternal and Child Health Voucher Scheme (MCHVS) was introduced in Myanmar to address the high rate of maternal and infant mortalities. It aimed to increase access to maternal and child health (MCH) services by skilled birth attendants (SBAs) and improve the health of pregnant women and their babies. A study to pilot a voucher scheme was implemented in May 2013 in Yedarshey Township. This paper provides a report on a mid-term review of the programme after 7 months of implementation to determine the outcomes of the programme and its impediments.

Methods: Quantitative and qualitative approaches were used. Secondary quantitative data were analysed in order to measure the coverage and utilisation of the programme. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in groups and individually with 79 key informants to explore qualitative information on voucher communication, beneficiary’s identification, voucher distribution, and challenges for beneficiaries and providers under the MCHVS.

Results: The results showed that 63 % of eligible pregnant women who registered to the programme received voucher booklets, while the utilisation of most of the MCH services increased over time; in particular, delivery by SBAs increased significantly (P < 0.01) after implementing MCHVS. Overall, the programme was implemented well in terms of promoting and communicating the programme to people in Yedarshey Township. Although a number of targeted poor pregnant women were included in the programme, some beneficiaries were overlooked for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, both providers and beneficiaries who experienced the MCHVS service utilisation were satisfied with the programme. The evaluation indicated several programme challenges, i.e. external and internal programme communication, voluntary voucher distributor recruitment, incentive and support for voucher distributors, beneficiary screening criteria, and approaches to increase access of services for pregnant women living in remote areas.

Conclusions: Generally, the MCHVS pilot programme is a promising initiative to increase access to and utilisation of the MCH services for pregnant women and their babies in Myanmar. However, increasing coverage of the programme and overcoming the barriers should be considered as high-priority issues that need to be addressed.

Correspondence: pitsaphun.w@hitap.net
1Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program (HITAP), Ministry
of Public Health, Tiwanon Road, Muang, Nonthaburi, Thailand
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article

Full Text: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12913-016-1850-3