Background: As part of efforts to reduce maternal deaths in Nigeria, pregnant women are being encouraged to give birth in healthcare facilities. However, little is known about whether or not available healthcare facilities can cope with an increasing demand for obstetric care. We thus carried out this survey as a rapid and tactical assessment of facility quality. We visited 121 healthcare facilities, and used the opportunity to interview over 700 women seeking care at these facilities.
Findings: Most of the primary healthcare facilities we visited were unable to provide all basic Emergency Obstetric Care (bEmOC) services. In general, they lack clinical staff needed to dispense maternal and neonatal care services, ambulances and uninterrupted electricity supply whenever there were obstetric emergencies. Secondary healthcare facilities fared better, but, like their primary counterparts, lack neonatal care infrastructure. Among patients, most lived within 30 minutes of the visited facilities and still reported some difficulty getting there. Of those who had had two or more childbirths, the conditional probability of a delivery occurring in a healthcare facility was 0.91 if the previous delivery occurred in a healthcare facility, and 0.24 if it occurred at home. The crude risk of an adverse neonatal outcome did not significantly vary by delivery site or birth attendant, and the occurrence of such an outcome during an in-facility delivery may influence the mother to have her next delivery outside. Such an outcome during a home delivery may not prompt a subsequent in-facility delivery.
Conclusions: In conclusion, reducing maternal deaths in Nigeria will require attention to both increasing the number of facilities with high-quality EmOC capability and also assuring Nigerian women have access to these facilities regardless of where they live.