Interventions Could Reduce Maternal Mortality in Africa

Stronger health facilities, drug provision in the community might save up to 59,000 lives annually
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Improved health facilities and greater access to misoprostol and antibiotics in the community could prevent thousands of maternal deaths in Africa annually, according to research published online Sept. 23 in The Lancet.

Christina Pagel, Ph.D., of the University College London, and colleagues created a mathematical model that factored in events related to maternal death from postpartum hemorrhage or sepsis, then estimated the possible impact of three levels of interventions if they were instituted in Malawi or sub-Saharan Africa.

The authors estimated that 2,860 maternal deaths occur annually in Malawi from these causes, and 182,000 occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Strengthening health facilities could prevent 210 and 21,300 deaths in these areas, respectively. Health facility strengthening, along with misoprostol given to women at outreach prenatal appointments and antibiotics given by community health workers to women with signs of postnatal infection could prevent 720 and 43,800 deaths, respectively. Finally, those interventions plus improved drug provision by female volunteers could prevent 1,020 and 59,000 deaths, respectively.

"We must immediately attend to the needs of women in the poorest communities for whom delivery in a health facility is infeasible. Drugs to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and to treat sepsis exist and could be made more accessible in communities by ensuring supply to health facilities and community outreach," the authors conclude.

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