Background: Maternal mortality in Africa has changed little since 1990. We developed a mathematical model with the aim of assessing whether improved community-based access to life-saving drugs, to augment a core programme of health-facility strengthening, could reduce maternal mortality due to post-partum haemorrhage or sepsis. Methods: We developed the mathematical model by considering the key events leading to maternal death from post-partum haemorrhage or sepsis after delivery. With parameter estimates from published work on occurrence of post-partum haemorrhage and sepsis, case fatality, and the effectiveness of drugs, we used this model to estimate the effect of three potential packages of interventions: 1) health-facility strengthening; 2) health-facility strengthening combined with improved drug provision via antenatal-care appointments and community health workers; and 3) all interventions in package two combined with improved community-based drug provision via female volunteers in villages. The model was applied to Malawi and sub-Saharan Africa. Findings: In the implementation of the model, the lowest risk deliveries were those in health facilities. With the model we estimated that of 2860 maternal deaths from post-partum haemorrhage or sepsis per year in Malawi, intervention package one could prevent 210 (7%) deaths, package two 720 (25%) deaths, and package three 1020 (36%) deaths. In sub-Saharan Africa, we estimated that of 182 000 such maternal deaths per year, these three packages could prevent 21 300 (12%), 43 800 (24%), and 59 000 (32%) deaths, respectively. The estimated effect of community-based drug provision was greatest for the poorest women. Interpretation: Community provision of misoprostol and antibiotics to reduce maternal deaths from post-partum haemorrhage and sepsis could be a highly effective addition to health-facility strengthening in Africa. Investigation of such interventions is urgently needed to establish the risks, benefits, and challenges of widespread implementation.
The Lancet (2009) 374 (9699) 1441-1448 [doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61566-X].
Estimation of potential effects of improved community-based drug provision, to augment health-facility strengthening, on maternal mortality due to post-partum haemorrhage and sepsis in sub-Saharan Africa: an equity-effectiveness model.