Open Access Research article

Unmet need for induction of labor in Africa: secondary analysis from the 2004 - 2005 WHO Global Maternal and Perinatal Health Survey (A cross-sectional survey)

Fawole Bukola1*, Nafiou Idi2, Machoki M’Mimunya3, Wolomby-Molondo Jean-Jose4, Mugerwa Kidza5, Neves Isilda6, Amokrane Faouzi7, Shah Archana8, Souza Joao Paulo9, Mathai Matthews10 and Gulmezoglu Metin9

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

2 Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey, Niger

3 Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

4 Department de Gynaecologie et Obstetrique, Cliniques Universitaire de Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

5 Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

6 Delegacao Provincial de Saude de Luanda, Luanda, Angola

7 Ministry of Health, Algiers, Algeria

8 Department of Health Systems, Policy and Workforce, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

9 Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

10 Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:722  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-722

Published: 31 August 2012



Induction of labor is being increasingly used to prevent adverse outcomes in the mother and the newborn.This study assessed the prevalence of induction of labor and determinants of its use in Africa.


We performed secondary analysis of the WHO Global Survey of Maternal and Newborn Health of 2004 and 2005. The African database was analyzed to determine the use of induction of labor at the country level and indications for induction of labor. The un-met needs for specific obstetric indications and at country level were assessed. Determinants of use of induction of labor were explored with multivariate regression analysis.


A total of 83,437 deliveries were recorded in the 7 participating countries. Average rate of induction was 4.4% with a range of 1.4 – 6.8%. Pre-labor rupture of membranes was the commonest indication for induction of labor. Two groups of women were identified: 2,776 women with indications had induction of labor while 7,996 women although had indications but labor was not induced.

Induction of labor was associated with reduction of stillbirths and perinatal deaths [OR – 0.34; 95% CI (0.27 – 0.43)].

Unmet need for induction of labor ranged between 66.0% and 80.2% across countries. Determinants of having an induction of labor were place of residence, duration of schooling, type of health facility and level of antenatal care.


Utilization of induction of labor in health facilities in Africa is very low. Improvements in social and health infrastructure are required to reverse the high unmet need for induction of labor.

Induction of labor; Rate; Utilization; Stillbirth; Unmet need; Perinatal death; Indication