Maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response in Ethiopia: Achievements, challenges and prospects

PLoS One. 2019 Oct 11;14(10):e0223540. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223540. eCollection 2019.


Background: Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response (MPDSR) was a pilot program introduced in Tigray, Ethiopia to monitor maternal and perinatal death. However; its implementation and operation is not evaluated yet. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the implementation and operational status and determinants of MPDSR using a programmatic data and stakeholders involved in the program.

Methods: Institutional based cross-sectional study was applied in public health facilities (75 health posts, 50 health centers and 16 hospitals) using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data were entered in to Epi-info and then transferred to SPSS version 21 for analysis. All variables with a p-value of ≤ 0.25 in the bivariate analysis were included in to multivariable logistic regression model to identify the independent predictors. For the qualitative part, manual thematic content analysis was done following data familiarization (reading and re-reading of the transcripts).

Results: In this study, only 34 (45.3%) of health posts were practicing early identification and notification of maternal/perinatal death. Furthermore, only 36 (54.5%) and 35(53%) of health facilities were practiced good quality of death review and took proper action respectively following maternal/perinatal deaths. Availability of three to four number of Health Extension Workers (HEWs) (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 6.09, 95%CI (Confidence Interval): 1.51-24.49), availability of timely Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) reports (AOR = 4.39, 95%CI: 1.08-17.80) and participation of steering committee's in death response (AOR = 9.19, 95%CI: 1.31-64.34) were the predictors of early identification and notification of maternal and perinatal death among health posts. Availability of trained nurse (AOR = 3.75, 95%CI: 1.08-12.99) and health facility's head work experience (AOR = 3.70, 95%CI: 1.04-13.22) were also the predictors of quality of death review among health facilities. Furthermore; availability of at least one cluster review meeting (AOR = 4.87, 95%CI: 1.30-18.26) and uninterrupted pregnant mothers registration (AOR = 6.85, 95%CI: 1.22-38.54) were associated with proper response implementation to maternal and perinatal death. Qualitative findings highlighted that perinatal death report was so neglected. Community participation and intersectoral collaboration were among the facilitators for MPDSR implementation while limited human work force capacity and lack of maternity waiting homes were identified as some of the challenges for proper response implementation.

Conclusion: This study showed that the magnitude of: early death identification and notification, review and response implementation were low. Strengthening active surveillance with active community participation alongside with strengthening capacity building and recruitment of additional HEWs with special focus to improve the quality of health service could enhance the implementation of MPDSR in the region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Maternal Death / statistics & numerical data*
  • Perinatal Death*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Pregnancy

Grant support

The study was funded by United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) in collaboration with Tigray Regional Health Bureau. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, and preparation of the manuscript.