Barriers to an Effective Maternal Health Service Delivery Network: A Qualitative Study among Health Providers in Legazpi City, Albay

  • Maria Stephanie Fay S. Cagayan UP College of Medicine
  • Rita Mae Ang-Bon Department of Health Region V Philippines
  • Fernando B. Garcia, Jr.
  • Filomena S. San Juan
  • Cecilia L. Llave
  • Catherine Banwell
  • Erlidia F. Llamas-Clark
Keywords: maternal health, service delivery, referral system barriers


Objectives. To A functioning referral system is critical to the maternal health program, especially in the management of obstetric emergencies. This study explored supply-side barriers affecting the effective implementation of the said service delivery network (SDN) in Legazpi, Albay in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.

Methods. Face-to-face in-depth interviews using semi-structured questionnaires were performed with health care providers involved in the SDN in Albay. Extensive note taking was done by the primary investigator while participants were observed during performance of duties from June - November 2018. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, translated into English, and analyzed thematically along with the observation notes using NVivo. A deductive-dominant approach was utilized for the data content analysis.

Results. Referral system barriers identified were cross-cutting across the different components of the health system such as governance, human health resource, service delivery and information systems. The barriers were further classified into individual, organizational and external-related factors in relation to the SDN. Examples of barriers included lack of knowledge of protocols and guidelines, lack of coordination between facilities, poor data management, inadequate capacity building opportunities, and constantly changing political landscape and policies.

Conclusions. The study is the first to explore barriers to effective service delivery network in maternal health in the country. Findings from the study provide significant insight to areas of improvement in the SDN that must be addressed to strengthen local health systems, especially with the country’s movement towards Universal Health Care where local health systems play a key role.