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The Consequences of Social Inequality: Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in Honduran Miskito Communities

  • Shahna Arps
Chapter
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)

Abstract

This chapter examines maternal health in coastal Miskito communities using an anthropological perspective. Miskito women who live in Gracias a Dios, the least populated and least developed department in Honduras, contend with multiple obstacles to safe motherhood, including infectious and noninfectious disease, economic insecurity, limited emergency obstetric care, poor transportation infrastructure, and high fertility. Ethnographic data collected during participant observation, four community discussions, individual interviews with 218 women and five midwives, 314 health assessments, and a maternal mortality survey are used to identify and explain the risks indigenous women encounter during pregnancy and childbirth. As in other vulnerable populations, poverty, inadequate health care resources, gender inequality, and young maternal age contribute to maternal morbidity and mortality in Miskito communities. These factors affect women’s health both directly and indirectly by influencing whether they experience complications and if they are able to withstand and recover from complications. Local beliefs about sorcery and witchcraft also affect health-related behaviors, including whether women seek prenatal care at health centers or travel to hospitals to give birth. Designing and carrying out effective interventions to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality depend on understanding local conditions and women’s complex social realities.

Keywords

Indigenous women Maternal health Honduras Pregnancy Central America Prenatal care Nicaragua Obstetrics Maternal morbidity Maternal mortality Verbal autopsy Surveillance Miskito Cause of death Pregnancy complication Maternal mortality ratio Obstetric death Traditional midwife Midwifery Gender inequality Sorcery Witchcraft 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA

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