Despite poverty reduction and increased promotion of improved nutrition practices in the community, undernutrition in Ethiopia remains a concern. The present study aimed to explore the demand and supply side barriers that limit the uptake of nutrition services among pregnant women from the rural communities of the Tigray Region, Northern Ethiopia. A community-based qualitative study was conducted in December through January 2017. A total of 90 key informant in-depth interviews and 14 focus group discussions were undertaken. Study participants were purposively selected for specific characteristics, along with health professionals deployed at various levels of the health system, including health posts, health centers, woreda health offices, and the regional health bureau. Study participants were asked to identify the barriers and implementation challenges that limit access to nutrition services for pregnant women. Participants’ responses were transcribed verbatim, without editing the grammar, to avoid losing meaning. The data were imported to ATLAS.ti 7 (qualitative data analysis software) for coding and analyzed using a thematic content analysis approach. The study findings indicated that the dietary quality of pregnant women in the study area remains poor and in some cases, poorer quality than pre-pregnancy. Across study sites, heavy workloads, food taboos and avoidances, low husband support, lack of economic resources, lack of awareness, low educational level of women, poor dietary habits, increased expenditure for cultural and religious festivities, “dependency syndrome”, low physical access to health facilities, poorly equipped health facilities, focus on child health and nutrition, poor coordination among nutrition specific and sensitive sectors, and limited sources of nutrition information were identified as the demand and supply side barriers limiting the uptake of nutrition services during pregnancy. In conclusion, the community would benefit from improved social behavior change communication on nutrition during pregnancy and multi-sectoral coordination among nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive sectors.
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