Strengthening and monitoring health system's capacity to improve availability, utilization and quality of emergency obstetric care in northern Nigeria

PLoS One. 2019 Feb 6;14(2):e0211858. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211858. eCollection 2019.


Background: Quality improvement in emergency obstetric care (EmOC) is a critical and cost-effective suite of interventions for the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. This study was undertaken to evaluate the impact of quality improvement interventions following a baseline assessment in Bauchi state, Nigeria.

Methods: This was a prospective before and after study between June 2012, and April 2015 in Bauchi State, Nigeria. The surveys included 21 hospitals designated by Ministry of Health (MoH) as comprehensive EmOC centers and 38 primary healthcare centers (PHCs) designated as basic EmOC centers. Data on EmOC services was collected using structured established EmOC tools developed by the Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD), and analyzed using univariate and bivariate statistical analyses.

Results: Facilities providing seven or nine signal EmOC functions increased from 6 (10.2%) in 2012 to 21 (35.6%) in 2015. Basic EmOC facilities increased from 1 (2.6%) to 7 (18.4%) and comprehensive EmOC facilities rose from 3 (14.3%) to 13 (61.9%). Facility birth increased from 3.6% to 8.0%. Cesarean birth rates increased from 3.8% in 2012 to 5.6% in 2015. Met need for EmOC more than doubled from 3.3% in 2012 to 9.9% in 2015. Direct obstetric case fatality rates increased from 3.1% in 2012 to 4.0% in 2015. Major direct obstetric complications as a percent of total maternal deaths was 70.9%, down from 80.1% in 2012.

Conclusion: The rise in the percent of facility-based births and in met need for EmOC suggest that interventions recommended and implemented after the baseline study resulted in increased availability, access and utilization of EmOC. Higher patient load, late arrival and better record keeping may explain the associated increase in case fatality rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric / standards*
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Facilities / standards
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / standards*
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Obstetrics / trends
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.