Background: Health institutions need to contribute their quota towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) with respect to maternal health. In order to do so, current data on maternal mortality is essential for careproviders and policy makers to appreciate the burden of the problem and understand how best to distribute resources. This study presents the magnitude and distribution of causes of maternal deaths at the beginning of the 21st century in a Nigerian referral hospital and derives recommendations to reduce its frequency.
Methods: A retrospective descriptive analysis of all cases of maternal deaths at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Southwest Nigeria between 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2005.
Results: There were 75 maternal deaths, 2509 live births and 2728 deliveries during the study period. Sixty-three (84.0%) of the deaths were direct maternal deaths while 12 (16.0%) were indirect maternal deaths. Major causes of deaths were hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (28.0%), haemorrhage (21.3%) and sepsis (20.0%). Overall, eclampsia was the leading cause of deaths singly accounting for 24.0% of all maternal deaths. Abortion and HIV-related mortality accounted for 1.3% and 4.0% of maternal deaths, respectively. The maternal mortality ratio of 2989.2 per 100,000 live births was significantly higher than that reported for 1988-1997 in the same institution. Up to 67/794 (8.4%) patients referred from other facilities died compared to 8/1934 (0.4%) booked patients (OR: 22.1; 95% CI: 10.2-50.1). Maternal death was more likely to follow operative deliveries than non-operative deliveries (27/545 vs 22/2161; OR: 5.07; 95% CI: 2.77-9.31).
Conclusion: At the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, a large number of pregnant women receiving care in this centre continue to die from preventable causes of maternal death. Adoption of evidence-based protocol for the management of eclampsia and improvement in the quality of obstetric care for unbooked emergencies would go a long way to significantly reduce the frequency of maternal deaths in this institution.