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Maternal deaths are on the increase around the world with the recent statistic standing at 99% in developing countries. In the United States, more than 1.7 million women lose their lives while giving births due to pregnancy complications (Smith 2).
Maternal deaths are mostly attributed to lack of proper medical attention of a skilled health or medical worker, unsafe abortions, excessive bleeding when giving birth and generally lack adequate education to pregnant women on pregnancy complications and their preventions (World Health Organization 7)
Impact Indicators For Maternal Mortality
Due to the increase of maternal deaths, something had to be done urgently to reduce the fatalities. The World Summit came up with a set of indicators that were to be used to closely monitor the maternal mortality reduction goals.
The Impact indicators agreed upon by UNICEF and WHO are the Maternal Mortality and Prenatal Mortality.
In Maternal Mortality, the levels, causes, and trends of maternal deaths are compared in different places. The Maternal Mortality ratio measures the probability of deaths caused due to pregnancy complications once pregnant, that means it measures live births.
Inquiries from relatives in the household about deaths can also ascertain maternal mortality. This is called the ‘sisterhood method’ (Marlene 57). The survey conducted using this indicator has played a significant role in capturing the number of maternal deaths and helps to know the cause of death.
However, its main limitation is that it is unable to record the exact figure of deaths due to various reasons.
The process is expensive, and the state has to rely on reports made by close members regarding the end. This is a problem since not all deaths are reported. Deaths caused by abortions are also very hard to be captured.
Perinatal Mortality is used for evaluating and monitoring maternal mortality programs that aim at reducing maternal deaths.
Its main goal is to ascertain the circumstances and causes under which the maternal deaths occur such as the delivery management and the health of the mother (Tinker 16).
This indicator is mostly preferred as perinatal deaths occur at a higher rate as compared to maternal deaths. However, this indicator lacks adequate local surveillance to measure neonatal deaths and stillbirths which are under-reported.
Emergency Obstetric care (EmOC)
EmOC refers to the process of medical response in saving a pregnant woman during the pregnancy period, delivery or post-partum period.
It can be either basic EmOC, which can be performed at the level of a health center by a midwife or a nurse, or Comprehensive EmOC which requires an operating theatre. There are several service indicators that refer to the use and availability of EmOC.
These service indicators include the availability of emergency obstetric care facilities, the Geographical distribution of these emergency obstetric care facilities, the various cesarean sections and the direct fatality rate in obstetric cases.
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These indicators are in most cases considered approximate as they are based on the best estimates, assumptions, and data (Bailey 5).
However, most countries do not meet the acceptable level for the needed appropriate interventions making the work of program planners to reduce the maternal deaths difficult.
Maternal deaths cause grief to those left behind and should, therefore, be addressed. Pregnant women should be educated and advised on getting the best medical care from qualified health trainers. Any complications during pregnancy should also be reported immediately.
Bailey, Patsy. Monitoring Emergency Obstetric Care. Switzerland: WHO Library Cataloguing-in-publication data, Vol (4) 13-15, 2009.
Marlene, Goldman. Women and Health. London: Academic press, 2000. Print.
Smith, Stephanie. Doubling lof Maternal Deaths in U.S. CNN Health. June 2010. web. 20 September 2010. http://www.articles.cnn.com/
Tinker, Anne. Making Motherhood Safe. London: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-publication Data, 1996. Print.
World Health Organisation. Maternal Deaths Disproportionately High in Developing Countries. April 2009. web. 20 September 2010. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/release.html/