Severe acute maternal morbidity in rural South Africa


The objective of this study was to identify the frequency, causes, and avoidable factors of severe acute maternal morbidity (SAMM) in four non-specialist hospitals in rural South Africa. A prospective audit was conducted using criteria for SAMM suited to the diagnostic and treatment facilities available in the primary hospital setting. For each case of SAMM, a local audit team assessed the standard of care against local management guidelines and examined avoidable factors. An external specialist also retrospectively examined avoidable factors. The facility-based incidence of SAMM was 541 cases per 100,000 births (95% CI 368–767). The commonest organ systems involved were cerebral (42%), coagulation (19%), and vascular dysfunctions (16%). The commonest obstetric diagnoses were eclampsia (39%) and obstetric haemorrhage (32%). Approximately 65% of cases were avoidable.The study concluded that a qualitative case review audit of SAMM in a non-specialist rural setting appears feasible and sustainable, and provides valuable information towards improving deficiencies in maternal care.


Gandhi, M.N.; Welz, T.; Ronsmans, C. Severe acute maternal morbidity in rural South Africa. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2004) 87 (2) 180-187. [DOI: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2004.07.012]

Severe acute maternal morbidity in rural South Africa

Published 1 January 2004