Maternal health-seeking behavior is not only a crucial public health issue but also a serious women’s health concern in Bangladesh. The present study examines the relationship between couples’ socioeconomic status and maternal health-seeking behavior in comparison of rural areas and urban communities in Bangladesh. Based on the research objectives, it included 95 rural and 95 urban couples (total 190 couples) randomly selected from purposively selected rural areas and urban communities in Thakurgaon District (north western area of Bangladesh). Results of the present study indicate that the rate of illiteracy was higher in rural sites than in the urban communities (rural: husbands - 25.26% and wives - 13.69%; urban: husbands - 5.26% and wives - 10.52%). The main occupation in rural areas is agriculture for husbands (48.42%) and home making for wives (84.21%) compared to 36.84% urban husbands in services and 75.79% wives in home making. By income, most of the rural couples (47.37%) earn less than Tk. 2000 per month compared to 1.05% in urban area. Data also indicates that 47.37% of rural women did not have medical check-ups during the pregnancy period, 73.69% gave birth at home and 68.42% used a traditional birth attendant (TBA) compared to 20.0%, 38.94% and 33.69% in the urban communities, respectively. The data analysis explores that, both in rural and urban communities, the low rate of maternal health-seeking behavior (e.g., no check-up, child birth at home, and traditional birth attendant) was higher among the husbands with illiteracy, wives only engaged in home-making jobs, and the couples earning less than Bangladesh taka 2000 (1 USD = 83 BDT in currency exchange) in a month. The findings suggest that education, income and particularly women’s employment or women’s engagement in income generating activities should be taken into account in addressing maternal health issues in Bangladesh.

Note on the Author

Delwar Hossain, Assistant Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur, Bangladesh and educated in the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh, is a member of the faculty of Social Sciences in the Department of Social Work. He obtained his M. Phil degree from the same university. He has publications in the areas of maternal health, children with disabilities and ethnic culture. He has provided research services to national and international organization. Email: dhossain@brur.ac.bd.