Integrated Maternal and Infant Health Care in the Postpartum Period in a Poor Neighborhood in Santiago, Chile

Authors


should be addressed to Reynaldo Alvarado, Institute Chileno de Medicina Reproductiva, Jose Ramon Gutierrez 295, Dept. 3, Santiago, Chile. E-mail: icmer@huelen.reuna.cl

Abstract

An integrated postpartum health-care program was established by the Consultorio San Luis de Huechuraba (CSLH), a nongovernmental organization in a neighborhood of extreme poverty in Santiago, Chile. The main components were education, maternal and infant health care, support for the mothers, and active participation of women from the community served. The program was evaluated through indicators of contraceptive use, breastfeeding performance, infant growth and health, and a qualitative assessment of women's satisfaction. Controls were women of similar characteristics attending the nearby public clinic. Acceptability of contraceptive methods was similar but contraceptive options differed between clinics. The total number of pregnancies and of respondents lost to follow-up was significantly higher for the public clinic than for the CSLH. Breastfeeding duration was significantly longer and infant growth and health were found to be significantly better at the CSLH than at the public clinic. Women valued being treated with respect, receiving education and support, and being offered timesaving services and wider contraceptive choices at the CSLH. This study demonstrates that such interventions are possible for poor communities, providing significant advantages for women and children.

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