The fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG5) aims at improving maternal health. Globally, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined from 400 to 260 per 100000 live births between 1990 and 2008. During the same period, MMR in sub-Saharan Africa decreased from 870 to 640. The decreased in MMR has been attributed to increase in the proportion of deliveries attended by skilled health personnel. Global improvements maternal health and health service provision indicators mask inequalities both between and within countries. In Namibia, there are significant inequities in births attended by skilled providers that favour those that are economically better off. The objective of this study was to identify the drivers of wealth-related inequalities in child delivery by skilled health providers.
Namibia Demographic and Health Survey data of 2006-07 are analysed for the causes of inequities in skilled birth attendance using a decomposable health concentration index and the framework of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health.
About 80.3% of the deliveries were attended by skilled health providers. Skilled birth attendance in the richest quintile is about 70% more than that of the poorest quintile. The rate of skilled attendance among educated women is almost twice that of women with no education. Furthermore, women in urban areas access the services of trained birth attendant 30% more than those in rural areas. Use of skilled birth attendants is over 90% in Erongo, Hardap, Karas and Khomas Regions, while the lowest (about 60-70%) is seen in Kavango, Kunene and Ohangwena. The concentration curve and concentration index show statistically significant wealth-related inequalities in delivery by skilled providers that are to the advantage of women from economically better off households (C = 0.0979; P < 0.001).
Delivery by skilled health provider by various maternal and household characteristics was 21 percentage points higher in urban than rural areas; 39 percentage points higher among those in richest wealth quintile than the poorest; 47 percentage points higher among mothers with higher level of education than those with no education; 5 percentage points higher among female headed households than those headed by men; 20 percentage points higher among people with health insurance cover than those without; and 31 percentage points higher in Karas region than Kavango region.
Inequalities in wealth and education of the mother are seen to be the main drivers of inequities in the percentage of births attended by skilled health personnel. This clearly implies that addressing inequalities in access to child delivery services should not be confined to the health system and that a concerted multi-sectoral action is needed in line with the principles of the Primary health Care.
Maternal mortality ratio in Pakistan remains high at 276 per 100000 live births (175 in the urban areas and 319 in rural) with a mother dying as a result of giving birth every 20 minutes. Despite the intervening years since the Safe Motherhood Initiative launch and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there have been few improvements in MDGs 4 and 5 in Pakistan. A key underlying reason is that only 39% of the births are attended by skilled birth attendants. Pakistan, like many other developing countries has been struggling to make improvements in maternal and neonatal health, amongst other measures, which include a nationwide health infrastructure network. Recently, government of Pakistan revised its maternal and newborn health program and introduced a new cadre of community based birth attendants, called community midwives (CMW), trained to conduct home-based deliveries. There is limited research available on field experiences of community midwives as maternal health care providers. Formative research was designed and conducted in a rural district of Pakistan with the objective of exploring role of CMWs as home based skilled service providers and the challenges they face in provision of skilled maternal care.
A qualitative research using content analysis was conducted in one rural district (Attock) of Pakistan. Focus group discussions were conducted with CMWs and other community based health workers as LHWs and LHSs, focusing on the role of CMWs in the existing primary health care infrastructure.
Results of this study reveal that the community midwives are struggling for survival in rural areas as maternal care providers as they are inadequately trained, lack sufficient resources to deliver services in their catchment areas and lack facilitation for integration in district health system.
CMWs face many challenges in the field related to the communities' attitude and the health system. With adequate training and facilitation by health department, CMWs have potential to play a vital role in reducing burden of maternal morbidity and in achieving significant gains in improving maternal and child health.
In Tanzania, maternal mortality ratio remains unacceptably high at 578/100,000 live births. Despite a high coverage of antenatal care (96%), only 44% of deliveries take place within the formal health services. Still, "Ensure skilled attendant at birth" is acknowledged as one of the most effective interventions to reduce maternal deaths. Exploring the potential of community-based interventions in increasing the utilization of obstetric care, the study aimed at developing, testing and assessing a community-based safe motherhood intervention in Mtwara rural District of Tanzania.
This community-based intervention was designed as a pre-post comparison study, covering 4 villages with a total population of 8300. Intervention activities were implemented by 50 trained safe motherhood promoters (SMPs). Their tasks focused on promoting early and complete antenatal care visits and delivery with a skilled attendant. Data on all 512 deliveries taking place from October 2004 to November 2006 were collected by the SMPs and cross-checked with health service records. In addition 242 respondents were interviewed with respect to knowledge on safe motherhood issues and their perception of the SMP's performance. Skilled delivery attendance was our primary outcome; secondary outcomes included antenatal care attendance and knowledge on Safe Motherhood issues.
Deliveries with skilled attendant significantly increased from 34.1% to 51.4% (ρ < 0.05). Early ANC booking (4 to 16 weeks) rose significantly from 18.7% at baseline to 37.7% in 2005 and 56.9% (ρ < 0.001) at final assessment. After two years 44 (88%) of the SMPs were still active, 79% of pregnant women were visited. Further benefits included the enhancement of male involvement in safe motherhood issues.
The study has demonstrated the effectiveness of community-based safe motherhood intervention in promoting the utilization of obstetric care and a skilled attendant at delivery. This improvement is attributed to the SMPs' home visits and the close collaboration with existing community structures as well as health services.
Reduction of maternal mortality is a global priority particularly in developing countries including Ethiopia where maternal mortality ratio is one of the highest in the world. The key to reducing maternal mortality ratio and improving maternal health is increasing attendance by skilled health personnel throughout pregnancy and delivery. However, delivery service is significantly lower in Amhara Regional State, Ethiopia. Therefore, this study aimed to assess factors affecting institutional delivery service utilization among mothers who gave birth in the last 12 months in Sekela District, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
Community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among mothers with birth in the last 12 months during August, 2010. Multistage sampling technique was used to select 371 participants. A pre tested and structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Bivariate and multivariate data analysis was performed using SPSS version 16.0 software.
The study indicated that 12.1% of the mothers delivered in health facilities. Of 87.9% mothers who gave birth at home, 80.0% of them were assisted by family members and relatives. The common reasons for home delivery were closer attention from family members and relatives (60.9%), home delivery is usual practice (57.7%), unexpected labour (33.4%), not being sick or no problem at the time of delivery (21.6%) and family influence (14.4%). Being urban resident (AOR [95% CI] = 4.6 [1.91, 10.9]), ANC visit during last pregnancy (AOR [95% CI] = 4.26 [1.1, 16.4]), maternal education level (AOR [95%CI] =11.98 [3.36, 41.4]) and knowledge of mothers on pregnancy and delivery services (AOR [95% CI] = 2.97[1.1, 8.6]) had significant associations with institutional delivery service utilization.
Very low institutional delivery service utilization was observed in the study area. Majority of the births at home were assisted by family members and relatives. ANC visit and lack of knowledge on pregnancy and delivery services were found to be associated with delivery service utilization. Strategies with focus on increasing ANC uptake and building knowledge of the mothers and their partners would help to increase utilization of the service. Training and assigning skilled attendants at Health Posta level to provide skilled home delivery would improve utilization of the service.
Institutional delivery service utilization; Preferred place of delivery; Sekela District
A crucial question in the aim to attain MDG5 is whether it can be achieved faster with the scaling up of multi-purpose health workers operating in the community or with the scaling up of professional skilled birth attendants working in health facilities. Most advisers concerned with maternal mortality reduction concur to promote births in facilities with professional attendants as the ultimate strategy. The evidence, however, is scarce on what it takes to progress in this path, and on the 'interim solutions' for situations where the majority of women still deliver at home. These questions are particularly relevant as we have reached the twentieth anniversary of the safe motherhood initiative without much progress made.
In this paper we review the current situation of human resources for maternal health as well as the problems that they face. We propose seven key areas of work that must be addressed when planning for scaling up human resources for maternal health in light of MDG5, and finally we indicate some advances recently made in selected countries and the lessons learned from these experiences. Whilst the focus of this paper is on maternal health, it is acknowledged that the interventions to reduce maternal mortality will also contribute to significantly reducing newborn mortality.
Addressing each of the seven key areas of work – recommended by the first International Forum on 'Midwifery in the Community', Tunis, December 2006 – is essential for the success of any MDG5 programme.
We hypothesize that a great deal of the stagnation of maternal health programmes has been the result of confusion and careless choices in scaling up between a limited number of truly skilled birth attendants and large quantities of multi-purpose workers with short training, fewer skills, limited authority and no career pathways. We conclude from the lessons learnt that no significant progress in maternal mortality reduction can be achieved without a strong political decision to empower midwives and others with midwifery skills, and a substantial strengthening of health systems with a focus on quality of care rather than on numbers, to give them the means to respond to the challenge.
As 2015 quickly approaches, we have been made increasingly aware of our progress toward Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, one MDG has been particularly recalcitrant to progress: MDG 5, namely, improving maternal health. Few countries are on track to achieve the first part of MDG 5’s goals, reducing maternal mortality by 75%. This article addresses the key priority issues of maternal health as part of sexual and reproductive health issues and maternal health and communicable diseases. It argues that only an integrative approach to the twin challenges of HIV and maternal mortality can help reduce devastatingly high rates of maternal deaths worldwide, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The article reenvisions the MDGs not as separate, independent tasks, but as related, cohesive issues for which a holistic approach is needed. New causes of the relationship between HIV and maternal mortality are considered, and possible solutions are broached.
HIV; maternal mortality; Millennium Development Goals; integrated approach to maternal health
Mal-distribution of the health workforce with a strong bias for urban living is a major constraint to expanding midwifery services in Ghana. According to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report, the high risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth continues in Africa. Maternal death is currently estimated at 350 per 100,000, partially a reflection of the low rates of professional support during birth. Many women in rural areas of Ghana give birth alone or with a non-skilled attendant. Midwives are key healthcare providers in achieving the MDGs, specifically in reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters and reducing by two-thirds the under 5 child mortality rate by 2015.
This quantitative research study used a computerized structured survey containing a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to quantify the importance of different incentives and policies to encourage service to deprived, rural and remote areas by upper-year midwifery students following graduation. Using a hierarchical Bayes procedure we estimated individual and mean utility parameters for two hundred and ninety eight third year midwifery students from two of the largest midwifery training schools in Ghana.
Midwifery students in our sample identified: 1) study leave after two years of rural service; 2) an advanced work environment with reliable electricity, appropriate technology and a constant drug supply; and 3) superior housing (2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchen, living room, not shared) as the top three motivating factors to accept a rural posting.
Addressing the motivating factors for rural postings among midwifery students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce could significantly contribute to the current mal-distribution of the health workforce.
Despite the international emphasis in the last few years on the need to address the unmet health needs of pregnant women and children, progress in reducing maternal mortality has been slow. This is particularly worrying in sub-Saharan Africa where over 162,000 women still die each year during pregnancy and childbirth, most of them because of the lack of access to skilled delivery attendance and emergency care. With a maternal mortality ratio of 673 per 100,000 live births and 19,000 maternal deaths annually, Ethiopia is a major contributor to the worldwide death toll of mothers. While some studies have looked at different risk factors for antenatal care (ANC) and delivery service utilisation in the country, information coming from community-based studies related to the Health Extension Programme (HEP) in rural areas is limited. This study aims to determine the prevalence of maternal health care utilisation and explore its determinants among rural women aged 15–49 years in Tigray, Ethiopia.
The study was a community-based cross-sectional survey using a structured questionnaire. A cluster sampling technique was used to select women who had given birth at least once in the five years prior to the survey period. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to elicit the impact of each factor on ANC and institutional delivery service utilisation.
The response rate was 99% (n=1113). The mean age of the participants was 30.4 years. The proportion of women who received ANC for their recent births was 54%; only 46 (4.1%) of women gave birth at a health facility. Factors associated with ANC utilisation were marital status, education, proximity of health facility to the village, and husband’s occupation, while use of institutional delivery was mainly associated with parity, education, having received ANC advice, a history of difficult/prolonged labour, and husbands’ occupation.
A relatively acceptable utilisation of ANC services but extremely low institutional delivery was observed. Classical socio-demographic factors were associated with both ANC and institutional delivery attendance. ANC advice can contribute to increase institutional delivery use. Different aspects of HEP need to be strengthened to improve maternal health in Tigray.
Availability of a Skilled Birth Attendant (SBA) during childbirth is a key indicator for MDG5 and a strategy for reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in Africa. There is limited information on how SBAs and their functions are defined. The aim of this study was to map the cadres of health providers considered SBAs in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA); to describe which signal functions of Essential Obstetric Care (EmOC) they perform and assess whether they are legislated to perform these functions.
Methods and Findings
Key personnel in the Ministries of Health, teaching institutions, referral, regional and district hospitals completed structured questionnaires in nine SSA countries in 2009–2011. A total of 21 different cadres of health care providers (HCP) were reported to be SBA. Type and number of EmOC signal functions reported to be provided, varied substantially between cadres and countries. Parenteral antibiotics, uterotonic drugs and anticonvulsants were provided by most SBAs. Removal of retained products of conception and assisted vaginal delivery were the least provided signal functions. Except for the cadres of obstetricians, medical doctors and registered nurse-midwives, there was lack of clarity regarding signal functions reported to be performed and whether they were legislated to perform these. This was particularly for manual removal of placenta, removal of retained products and assisted vaginal delivery. In some countries, cadres not considered SBA performed deliveries and provided EmOC signal functions. In other settings, cadres reported to be SBA were able to but not legislated to perform key EmOC signal functions.
Comparison of cadres of HCPs reported to be SBA across countries is difficult because of lack of standardization in names, training, and functions performed. There is a need for countries to develop clear guidelines defining who is a SBA and which EmOC signal functions each cadre of HCP is expected to provide.
Recent efforts to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries have focused primarily on two long-term aims: training and deploying skilled birth attendants and upgrading emergency obstetric care facilities. Given the future population-level benefits, strengthening of health systems makes excellent strategic sense but it does not address the immediate safe-delivery needs of the estimated 45 million women who are likely to deliver at home, without a skilled birth attendant. There are currently 28 countries from four major regions in which fewer than half of all births are attended by skilled birth attendants. Sixty-nine percent of maternal deaths in these four regions can be attributed to these 28 countries, despite the fact that these countries only constitute 34% of the total population in these regions. Trends documenting the change in the proportion of births accompanied by a skilled attendant in these 28 countries over the last 15-20 years offer no indication that adequate change is imminent. To rapidly reduce maternal mortality in regions where births in the home without skilled birth attendants are common, governments and community-based organizations could implement a cost-effective, complementary strategy involving health workers who are likely to be present when births in the home take place. Training community-based birth attendants in primary and secondary prevention technologies (e.g. misoprostol, family planning, measurement of blood loss, and postpartum care) will increase the chance that women in the lowest economic quintiles will also benefit from global safe motherhood efforts.
Cross-sectional studies; Delivery; Maternal health services; Maternal mortality; Misoprostol; Postpartum haemorrhage; Skilled birth attendants; Traditional birth attendants
The benefits of maternal health care to maternal and neonatal health outcomes have been well documented. Antenatal care attendance, institutional delivery and skilled attendance at delivery all help to improve maternal and neonatal health. However, use of maternal health services is still very low in developing countries with high maternal mortality including Ethiopia. This study examines the association of unintended Pregnancy with the use of maternal health services in Southwestern Ethiopia.
Data for this study come from a survey conducted among 1370 women with a recent birth in a Health and Demographic Surveillance Site (HDSS) in southwestern Ethiopia. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to gather data on maternal health care, pregnancy intention and other explanatory variables. Data were analyzed using STATA 11, and both bivariate and multivariate analyses were done. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the association of pregnancy intention with the use of antenatal and delivery care services. Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratio and their 95% confidence intervals are reported.
More than one third (35%) of women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unintended. With regards to maternal health care, only 42% of women made at least one antenatal care visit during pregnancy, while 17% had four or more visits. Institutional delivery was only 12%. Unintended pregnancy was significantly (OR: 0.75, 95% CI, 0.58-0.97) associated with use of antenatal care services and receiving adequate antenatal care (OR: 0.67, 95% CI, 0.46-0.96), even after adjusting for other socio-demographic factors. However, for delivery care, the association with pregnancy intention was attenuated after adjustment. Other factors associated with antenatal care and delivery care include women’s education, urban residence, wealth and distance from health facility.
Women with unintended pregnancies were less likely to access or receive adequate antenatal care. Interventions are needed to reduce unintended pregnancy such as improving access to family planning information and services. Moreover, improving access to maternal health services and understanding women’s pregnancy intention at the time of first antenatal care visit is important to encourage women with unintended pregnancies to complete antenatal care.
Unintended pregnancy; Antenatal care; Delivery care; Southwestern Ethiopia
The fifth Millennium Development Goal calls for a reduction of maternal mortality ratio by 75% between 1990 and 2015. A key indicator to measure this goal is the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel. The maternal mortality ratio of Ethiopia is 676 deaths per 100,000 live births. Skilled birth attendance is correlated with lower maternal mortality rates globally and in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the proportion of births with a skilled attendant is only 10% in Ethiopia. Therefore identifying the determinants of skilled attendance for delivery is a priority area to give policy recommendations.
A community based nested case control study was conducted from October 2009 – August 2011 at the University of Gondar health and demographic surveillance systems site located at Dabat district, Northwest Ethiopia. Data were obtained from the infant mortality prospective follow up study conducted to identify the determinants of infant survival. A pretested and structured questionnaire via interview was used to collect data on the different variables. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the determinants of skilled birth attendance. Strength of the association was assessed using odds ratio with 95% CI.
A total of 1065 mothers (213 cases and 852 controls) were included in the analysis. Among the cases, 166 (77.9%) were from urban areas. More than half (54%) of the cases have secondary and above level of education. Secondary and above level of education [AOR (95%CI) = 2.8 (1.29, 3.68)] and urban residence [AOR (95%CI) = 8.8 (5.32, 14.46)] were associated with skilled attendance for delivery. Similarly, women who had ANC during their pregnancy four or more times [AOR (95%CI) = 2.8 (1.56, 4.98)] and who own TV [AOR (95%CI) = 2.5 (1.32, 4.76)] were more likely to deliver with the assistance of a skilled attendant.
Women’s education, place of residence, frequency of antenatal care visit and ever use of family planning were found to be determinants of skilled birth attendance. Encouraging women to complete at least secondary education and to have antenatal care frequently are important to increase skilled attendance during delivery.
Determinant; Skilled birth attendance; Ethiopia
Bangladesh is distinct among developing countries in achieving a low maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 322 per 100,000 livebirths despite the very low use of skilled care at delivery (13% nationally). This variation has also been observed in Matlab, a rural area in Bangladesh, where longitudinal data on maternal mortality are available since the mid-1970s. The current study investigated the possible causes of the maternal mortality decline in Matlab. The study analyzed 769 maternal deaths and 215,779 pregnancy records from the Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) and other sources of safe motherhood data in the ICDDR,B and government service areas in Matlab during 1976-2005. The major interventions that took place in both the areas since the early 1980s were the family-planning programme plus safe menstrual regulation services and safe motherhood interventions (midwives for normal delivery in the ICDDR,B service area from the late 1980s and equal access to comprehensive emergency obstetric care [EmOC] in public facilities for women from both the areas). National programmes for social development and empowerment of women through education and microcredit programmes were implemented in both the areas. The quantitative findings were supplemented by a qualitative study by interviewing local community care providers for their change in practices for maternal healthcare over time. After the introduction of the safe motherhood programme, reduction in maternal mortality was higher in the ICDDR,B service area (68.6%) than in the government service area (50.4%) during 1986-1989 and 2001-2005. Reduction in the number of maternal deaths due to the fertility decline was higher in the government service area (30%) than in the ICDDR,B service area (23%) during 1979-2005. In each area, there has been substantial reduction in abortion-related mortality—86.7% and 78.3%—in the ICDDR,B and government service areas respectively. Education of women was a strong predictor of the maternal mortality decline in both the areas. Possible explanations for the maternal mortality decline in Matlab are: better access to comprehensive EmOC services, reduction in the total fertility rate, and improved education of women. To achieve the Millenium Development Goal 5 targets, policies that bring further improved comprehensive EmOC, strengthened family-planning services, and expanded education of females are essential.
Causes of death; Delivery; Health services; Health facilities; Healthcare; Maternal health; Maternal mortality; Obstetric care; Risk factors; Bangladesh
Reducing maternal morbidity and mortality is a global priority which is particularly relevant to developing countries like Ethiopia. One of the key strategies for reducing maternal morbidity and mortality is increasing institutional delivery service utilization of mothers under the care of skilled birth attendants. The aim of this study was to determine the level of institutional delivery service utilization and associated factors.
A community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted from April 1–20, 2011, among mothers who gave birth 12 months before the study began in Munesa Woreda, Arsi Zone, Oromia Region, Southeast Ethiopia. A stratified cluster sampling was used to select a sample of 855 participants.
Out of all deliveries, only 12.3% took place at health facilities. Women who were urban residents (AOR = 2.27, 95%CI: 1.17, 4.40), women of age at interview less than 20 years (AOR = 6.06, 95%CI: 1.54, 23.78), women with first pregnancy (AOR = 2.41, 95%CI: 1.17, 4.97) and, women who had ANC visit during the last pregnancy (AOR = 4.18, 95%CI: 2.54, 6.89) were more likely to deliver at health institutions. Secondary and above level of mother`s and husband`s education had also a significant effect on health institution delivery with AOR = 4.31 (95%CI: 1.62, 11.46) and AOR = 2.77 (95%CI: 1.07, 7.19) respectively.
Institutional delivery service utilization was found to be low in the study area. Secondary and above level of mother`s and husband`s education, urban residence and ANC visit were amongst the main factors that had an influence on health institution delivery. Increasing the awareness of mothers and their partners about the benefits of institutional delivery services are recommended.
South Africa’s maternal mortality rate (625 deaths/100,000 live births) is high for a middle-income country, although over 90% of pregnant women utilize maternal health services. Alongside HIV/AIDS, barriers to Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care currently impede the country’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. While health system barriers to obstetric care have been well documented, “patient-oriented” barriers have been neglected. This article explores affordability, availability and acceptability barriers to obstetric care in South Africa from the perspectives of women who had recently used, or attempted to use, these services.
A mixed-method study design combined 1,231 quantitative exit interviews with sixteen qualitative in-depth interviews with women (over 18) in two urban and two rural health sub-districts in South Africa. Between June 2008 and September 2009, information was collected on use of, and access to, obstetric services, and socioeconomic and demographic details. Regression analysis was used to test associations between descriptors of the affordability, availability and acceptability of services, and demographic and socioeconomic predictor variables. Qualitative interviews were coded deductively and inductively using ATLAS ti.6. Quantitative and qualitative data were integrated into an analysis of access to obstetric services and related barriers.
Access to obstetric services was impeded by affordability, availability and acceptability barriers. These were unequally distributed, with differences between socioeconomic groups and geographic areas being most important. Rural women faced the greatest barriers, including longest travel times, highest costs associated with delivery, and lowest levels of service acceptability, relative to urban residents. Negative provider-patient interactions, including staff inattentiveness, turning away women in early-labour, shouting at patients, and insensitivity towards those who had experienced stillbirths, also inhibited access and compromised quality of care.
To move towards achieving its MDGs, South Africa cannot just focus on increasing levels of obstetric coverage, but must systematically address the access constraints facing women during pregnancy and delivery. More needs to be done to respond to these “patient-oriented” barriers by improving how and where services are provided, particularly in rural areas and for poor women, as well as altering the attitudes and actions of health care providers.
Maternal health is one of the major worldwide health challenges. Currently, the unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality are a common subject in global health and development discussions. Although some countries have made remarkable progress, half of the maternal deaths in the world still take place in Sub-Saharan Africa where little or no progress has been made. There is no single simple, straightforward intervention that will significantly decrease maternal mortality alone; however, there is a consensus on the importance of a strong health system, skilled delivery attendants, and women's rights for maternal health. Our objective was to describe and determine different factors associated with the maternal mortality ratio in Sub-Saharan countries.
An ecological multi-group study compared variables between many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa using data collected between 1997 and 2006. The dependent variable was the maternal mortality ratio, and Health care system-related, educational and economic indicators were the independent variables. Information sources included the WHO, World Bank, UNICEF and UNDP.
Maternal mortality ratio values in Sub-Saharan Africa were demonstrated to be high and vary enormously among countries. A relationship between the maternal mortality ratio and some educational, sanitary and economic factors was observed. There was an inverse and significant correlation of the maternal mortality ratio with prenatal care coverage, births assisted by skilled health personnel, access to an improved water source, adult literacy rate, primary female enrolment rate, education index, the Gross National Income per capita and the per-capita government expenditure on health.
Education and an effective and efficient health system, especially during pregnancy and delivery, are strongly related to maternal death. Also, macro-economic factors are related and could be influencing the others.
Developing countries are currently struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goal Five of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. Many health systems are facing acute shortages of health workers needed to provide improved prenatal care, skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric services – interventions crucial to reducing maternal death. The World Health Organization estimates a current deficit of almost 2.4 million doctors, nurses and midwives. Complicating matters further, health workforces are typically concentrated in large cities, while maternal mortality is generally higher in rural areas. Additionally, health care systems are faced with shortages of specialists such as anaesthesiologists, surgeons and obstetricians; a maldistribution of health care infrastructure; and imbalances between the public and private health care sectors. Increasingly, policy-makers have been turning to human resource strategies to cope with staff shortages. These include enhancement of existing work roles; substitution of one type of worker for another; delegation of functions up or down the traditional role ladder; innovation in designing new jobs;transfer or relocation of particular roles or services from one health care sector to another. Innovations have been funded through state investment, public-private partnerships and collaborations with nongovernmental organizations and quasi-governmental organizations such as the World Bank. This paper focuses on how two large health systems in India – Gujarat and Tamil Nadu – have successfully applied human resources strategies in uniquely different contexts to the challenges of achieving Millennium Development Goal Five.
The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel is one of two indicators used to measure progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims for a 75% reduction in global maternal mortality ratios by 2015. Rwanda has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, estimated between 249–584 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The objectives of this study were to quantify secular trends in health facility delivery and to identify factors that affect the uptake of intrapartum healthcare services among women living in rural villages in Bugesera District, Eastern Province, Rwanda.
Using census data and probability proportional to size cluster sampling methodology, 30 villages were selected for community-based, cross-sectional surveys of women aged 18–50 who had given birth in the previous three years. Complete obstetric histories and detailed demographic data were elicited from respondents using iPad technology. Geospatial coordinates were used to calculate the path distances between each village and its designated health center and district hospital. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to identify factors associated with delivery in health facilities.
Analysis of 3106 lifetime deliveries from 859 respondents shows a sharp increase in the percentage of health facility deliveries in recent years. Delivering a penultimate baby at a health facility (OR = 4.681 [3.204 - 6.839]), possessing health insurance (OR = 3.812 [1.795 - 8.097]), managing household finances (OR = 1.897 [1.046 - 3.439]), attending more antenatal care visits (OR = 1.567 [1.163 - 2.112]), delivering more recently (OR = 1.438 [1.120 - 1.847] annually), and living closer to a health center (OR = 0.909 [0.846 - 0.976] per km) were independently associated with facility delivery.
The strongest correlates of facility-based delivery in Bugesera District include previous delivery at a health facility, possession of health insurance, greater financial autonomy, more recent interactions with the health system, and proximity to a health center. Recent structural interventions in Rwanda, including the rapid scale-up of community-financed health insurance, likely contributed to the dramatic improvement in the health facility delivery rate observed in our study.
Maternal health; Service delivery; Health financing; Health systems; Sub-Saharan Africa
Evidence from low and middle income countries (LMICs) suggests that maternal mortality is more prevalent among the poor whereas access to maternal health services is concentrated among the rich. In Bangladesh substantial inequities exist both in the use of facility-based basic obstetric care and for home births attended by skilled birth attendant. BRAC initiated an intervention on Improving Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Survival (IMNCS) in the rural areas of Bangladesh in 2008. One of the objectives of the intervention is to improve the utilization of maternal and child health care services among the poor. This study aimed to look at the impact of the intervention on utilization and also on equity of access to maternal health services.
A quasi-experimental pre-post comparison study was conducted in rural areas of five districts comprising three intervention (Gaibandha, Rangpur and Mymensingh) and two comparison districts (Netrokona and Naogaon). Data on health seeking behaviour for maternal health were collected from a repeated cross sectional household survey conducted in 2008 and 2010.
Results show that the intervention appears to cause an increase in the utilization of antenatal care. The concentration index (CI) shows that this has become pro-poor over time (from CI: 0.30 to CI: 0.04) in the intervention areas. In contrast the use of ANC from medically trained providers has become pro-rich (from, CI: 0.18 to CI: 0.22). There was a significant increase in the utilisation of trained attendants for home delivery in the intervention areas compared to the comparison areas and the change was found to be pro-poor. Use of postnatal care cervices was also found to be pro-poor (from CI: 0.37 to CI: 0.14). Utilization of ANC services provided by medically trained provider did not improve in the intervention area. However, where the intervention had a positive effect on utilization it also seemed to have had a positive effect on equity.
To sustain equity in health care utilization, the IMNCS programme needs to continue providing free home based services. In addition to this, the programme should also continue to provide funding to bear the cost to those mothers who are not able to have the comprehensive ANC from medically trained providers.
A measure of the proportion of deliveries assisted by skilled attendants is one of the indicators of progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, which aims at improving maternal health. This study aimed at establishing delivery practices and associated factors among mothers seeking child welfare services at selected health facilities in Nyandarua South district, Kenya to determine whether mothers were receiving appropriate delivery care.
A hospital-based cross-sectional survey among women who had recently delivered while in the study area was carried out between August and October 2009. Binary Logistic regression was used to identify factors that predicted mothers' delivery practice.
Among the 409 mothers who participated in the study, 1170 deliveries were reported. Of all the deliveries reported, 51.8% were attended by unskilled birth attendants. Among the deliveries attended by unskilled birth attendants, 38.6% (452/1170) were by neighbors and/or relatives. Traditional Birth Attendants attended 1.5% (17/1170) of the deliveries while in 11.7% (137/1170) of the deliveries were self administered. Mothers who had unskilled birth attendance were more likely to have <3 years of education (Adjusted Odds ratio [AOR] 19.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.7 - 212.8) and with more than three deliveries in a life time (AOR 3.8, 95% CI 2.3 - 6.4). Mothers with perceived similarity in delivery attendance among skilled and unskilled delivery attendants were associated with unsafe delivery practice (AOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1 - 3.4). Mother's with lower knowledge score on safe delivery (%) were more likely to have unskilled delivery attendance (AOR 36.5, 95% CI 4.3 - 309.3).
Among the mothers interviewed, utilization of skilled delivery attendance services was still low with a high number of deliveries being attended by unqualified lay persons. There is need to implement cost effective and sustainable measures to improve the quality of maternal health services with an aim of promoting safe delivery and hence reducing maternal mortality.
Bangladesh is one of the few countries that may actually achieve the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in time, despite skilled birth attendance remaining low. The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential role misoprostol can play in the decline of maternal deaths attributed to postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) in Bangladesh.
Using data from a misoprostol and blood loss measurement tool feasibility study in Bangladesh, observed cause specific maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) were estimated and contrasted with expected ratios using estimates from the Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Survey (BMMS) data. Using Crystal Ball 7 we employ Monte Carlo simulation techniques to estimate maternal deaths in four scenarios, each with different levels of misoprostol coverage. These scenarios include project level misoprostol coverage (69%), no (0%), low (40%), and high (80%) misoprostol coverage. Data on receipt of clean delivery kit, use of misoprostol, experience of PPH, and cause of death were used in model assumptions.
Using project level misoprostol coverage (69%), the mean number of PPH deaths expected was 40 (standard deviation = 8.01) per 100,000 live births. Assuming no misoprostol coverage (0%), the mean number of PPH deaths expected was 51 (standard deviation = 9.30) per 100,000 live births. For low misoprostol coverage (40%), the mean number of PPH deaths expected was 45 (standard deviation = 8.26) per 100,000 live births, and for high misoprostol coverage (80%), the mean number of PPH deaths expected was 38 (standard deviation = 7.04) per 100,000 live births.
This theoretical exercise hypothesizes that prophylactic use of misoprostol at home births may contribute to a reduction in the risk of death due to PPH, in addition to reducing the incidence of PPH. If findings from this modeling exercise are accurate and uterotonics can prevent maternal death, misoprostol could be the tool countries need to further reduce maternal mortality at home births.
Traditional birth attendant; Bangladesh; Postpartum hemorrhage; Maternal mortality; Misoprostol; Delivery mat; Monte Carlo
Delivery by a skilled birth attendant (SBA) in a hospital is advocated to improve maternal health; however, hospital expenses for delivery care services are a concern for women and their families, particularly for women who pay out-of-pocket. Although health insurance is now implemented in Lao PDR, it is not universal throughout the country. The objectives of this study are to estimate the total health care expenses for vaginal delivery and caesarean section, to determine the association between health insurance and family income with health care expenditure and assess the effect of health insurance from the perspectives of the women and the skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in Lao PDR.
A cross-sectional study was carried out in two provincial hospitals in Lao PDR, from June to October 2010. Face to face interviews of 581 women who gave birth in hospital and 27 SBAs was carried out. Both medical and non-medical expenses were considered. A linear regression model was used to assess influencing factors on health care expenditure and trends of medical and non-medical expenditure by monthly family income stratified by mode of delivery were assessed.
Of 581 women, 25% had health care insurance. Health care expenses for delivery care services were significantly higher for caesarean section (270 USD) than for vaginal delivery (59 USD). After adjusting for the effect of hospital, family income was significantly associated with all types of expenditure in caesarean section, while it was associated with non-medical and total expenditures in vaginal delivery. Both delivering women and health providers thought that health insurance increased the utilisation of delivery care.
Substantially higher delivery care expenses were incurred for caesarean section compared to vaginal delivery. Three-fourths of the women who were not insured needed to be responsible for their own health care payment. Women who had higher family incomes were able to pay for more non-medical care expenses. The effect of health insurance on service utilization was noted by women and SBAs. To achieve the goal of utilizing delivery care in the hospitals, coverage of health insurance needs to be expanded.
Maternal mortality in childbirth has been, until recently, a neglected tragedy in most developing countries. Rates of maternal deaths range from 300 to 700/100 000 live births, from 50 to 100 times greater in developing than in developed countries. The major direct obstetric causes include illegal abortions, hemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labour, ruptured uterus, and pregnancy-induced hypertension. During the past decade, increased recognition of this problem has led to the “Safe Motherhood Initiative” by the World Health Organization in 1987, which has been integrated into the goal of “Health for All by the Year 2000.” The training of traditional birth attendants (who attend from 40% to 60% of births in developing countries) is seen as one of the most important ways to improve obstetric care in remote rural villages.
family medicine; maternal mortality; obstetrics; World Health Organization
Achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of improving maternal health has become a focus in recent times for the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana’s maternal mortality is still high indicating that there are challenges in the provision of quality maternal health care at the facility level. This study examined the implementation challenges of maternal health care services in the Tamale Metropolis of Ghana.
Purposive sampling was used to select study participants and qualitative strategies, including in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and review of documents employed for data collection. The study participants included midwives (24) and health managers (4) at the facility level.
The study revealed inadequate in-service training, limited knowledge of health policies by midwives, increased workload, risks of infection, low motivation, inadequate labour wards, problems with transportation, and difficulties in following the procurement act, among others as some of the challenges confronting the successful implementation of the MDGs targeting maternal and child health in the Tamale Metropolis.
Implementation of maternal health interventions should take into consideration the environment or the context under which the interventions are implemented by health care providers to ensure they are successful. The study recommends involving midwives in the health policy development process to secure their support and commitment towards successful implementation of maternal health interventions.
Implementation; Millennium Development goal; Maternal health; Ghana
In many developing countries, the maternal mortality ratio remains high with huge poor-rich inequalities. Programmes aimed at improving maternal health and preventing maternal mortality often fail to reach poor women. Vouchers in health and Health Equity Funds (HEFs) constitute a financial mechanism to improve access to priority health services for the poor. We assess their effectiveness in improving access to skilled birth attendants for poor women in three rural health districts in Cambodia and draw lessons for further improvement and scaling-up.
Data on utilisation of voucher and HEF schemes and on deliveries in public health facilities between 2006 and 2008 were extracted from the available database, reports and the routine health information system. Qualitative data were collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. We examined the trend of facility deliveries between 2006 and 2008 in the three health districts and compared this with the situation in other rural districts without voucher and HEF schemes. An operational analysis of the voucher scheme was carried out to assess its effectiveness at different stages of operation.
Facility deliveries increased sharply from 16.3% of the expected number of births in 2006 to 44.9% in 2008 after the introduction of voucher and HEF schemes, not only for voucher and HEF beneficiaries, but also for self-paid deliveries. The increase was much more substantial than in comparable districts lacking voucher and HEF schemes. In 2008, voucher and HEF beneficiaries accounted for 40.6% of the expected number of births among the poor. We also outline several limitations of the voucher scheme.
Vouchers plus HEFs, if carefully designed and implemented, have a strong potential for reducing financial barriers and hence improving access to skilled birth attendants for poor women. To achieve their full potential, vouchers and HEFs require other interventions to ensure the supply of sufficient quality maternity services and to address other non-financial barriers to demand. If these conditions are met, voucher and HEF schemes can be further scaled up under close monitoring and evaluation.