Purpose: We conducted a survey to determine availability of emergency obstetric care (EmOC) to provide baseline data for monitoring provision of obstetric care services in Uganda.
Methods: The survey, covering 54 districts and 553 health facilities, assessed availability of EmOC signal functions. Following this, performance improvement process was implemented in 20 district hospitals to scale-up EmOC services.
Findings: A maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 671/100,000 live births was recorded. Hemorrhage, 42.2%, was the leading direct cause of maternal deaths, and malaria accounted for 65.5% of the indirect causes. Among the obstetric complications, abortion accounted for 38.9% of direct and malaria 87.4% of indirect causes. Removal of retained products (OR 3.3, P<0.002), assisted vaginal delivery (OR 3.3, P<0.001) and blood transfusion (OR 13.7, P<0.001) were the missing signal functions contributing to maternal deaths. Most health facilities expected to offer basic EmOC, 349 (97.2%) were not offering them. Using the performance improvement process, availability of EmOC in the 20 hospitals improved significantly.
Conclusion: An integrated programming approach aiming at increasing access to EmOC, malaria treatment and prevention services could reduce maternal mortality in Uganda.