[Potential role of prenatal care in reducing maternal and perinatal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa]

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 2002 Feb;31(1):90-9.
[Article in French]


Prenatal care has been implemented in developing countries according to the same mode as applied in industrialized countries without considering its real effectiveness in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. Several recent studies suggest that the goals should be revisited in order to implement a program of prenatal care based on real scientific evidence. Based on the current literature, we propose a potentially effective content for prenatal care adapted to the context of developing countries. Four antenatal consultations would be enough if appropriately timed at 12, 26, 32 and 36 weeks pregnancy. The purpose of these consultations would be: 1) to screen for three major risk factors, which, when recognized, lead to specific action: uterine, scare, malpresentation, premature rupture of the membranes; 2) to prevent and/or detect (and treat) specific complications of pregnancy: hypertension, infection (malaria, venereal disease, HIV, tetanus, urinary tract infection); anemia and trace element deficiencies, gestational diabetes mellitus; 3) to provide counseling, support and information for pregnant women and their families (including the partner) concerning: severe signs and symptoms of pregnancy and delivery, community organization of emergency transfer, delivery planning. These potentially effective actions can only have a real public health impact if implemented within an organized maternal health system with a functional network of delivery units, if truly quality care is given, and if the relationships between health care providers and the population are based on mutual respect. Sub-Saharan African women use prenatal care extensively when it is accessible; this opportunity must be used to implement evidence-based actions with appropriate and realistic goals.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Risk Factors