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Open Access Research article

Maternal mortality in Kassala State - Eastern Sudan: community-based study using Reproductive age mortality survey (RAMOS)

Abdalla A Mohammed1*, Mahgoub H Elnour2, Eltayeb E Mohammed3, Samah A Ahmed4 and Ahmed I Abdelfattah1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kassala, P.O. Box 266, Kassala Sudan

2 Kassala State Ministry of Health, 3111 Kassala, Sudan

3 Department of Community Medicine, University of Kassala, P.O. Box 266, Kassala, Sudan

4 Reproductive Health, Ministry of Health, Kassala State, 3111 Kassala, Sudan

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Citation and License

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2011, 11:102  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-102

Published: 16 December 2011

Abstract

Background

The maternal mortality ratio in Sudan was estimated at 750/100,000 live births. Sudan was one of eleven countries that are responsible for 65% of global maternal deaths according to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) estimate. Maternal mortality in Kassala State was high in national demographic surveys. This study was conducted to investigate the causes and contributing factors of maternal deaths and to identify any discrepancies in rates and causes between different areas.

Methods

A reproductive age mortality survey (RAMOS) was conducted to study maternal mortality in Kassala State. Deaths of women of reproductive age (WRA) in four purposively selected areas were identified by interviewing key informants in each village followed by verbal autopsy.

Results

Over a three-year period, 168 maternal deaths were identified among 26,066 WRA. Verbal autopsies were conducted in 148 (88.1%) of these cases. Of these, 64 (43.2%) were due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. Maternal mortality rates and ratios were 80.6 per 100,000 WRA and 713.6 per 100,000 live births (LB), respectively. There was a wide discrepancy between urban and rural maternal mortality ratios (369 and 872\100,000 LB, respectively). Direct obstetric causes were responsible for 58.4% of deaths. Severe anemia (20.3%) and acute febrile illness (9.4%) were the major indirect causes of maternal death whereas obstetric hemorrhage (15.6%), obstructed labor (14.1%) and puerperal sepsis (10.9%) were the major obstetric causes.

Of the contributing factors, we found delay of referral in 73.4% of cases in spite of a high problem recognition rate (75%). 67.2% of deaths occurred at home, indicating under utilization of health facilities, and transportation problems were found in 54.7% of deaths.

There was a high illiteracy rate among the deceased and their husbands (62.5% and 48.4%, respectively).

Conclusions

Maternal mortality rates and ratios were found to be high, with a wide variation between urban and rural populations. Direct causes of maternal death were similar to those in developing countries. To reduce this high maternal mortality rate we recommend improving provision of emergency obstetric care (Emoc) in all health facilities, expanding midwifery training and coverage especially in rural areas.