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July 2021

Soc Sci Med. 1987 ; 24(6): 551-8.

The magnitude of the maternal mortality problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

Boerma T.

Estimates of national levels of maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa are based on limited and defective data and subject to considerable discussion. In this paper, existing data from several sources are reviewed. The attempt has been made to assess the level of maternal mortality by studying the relative importance of maternal death, health services coverage data, perinatal mortality, causes of maternal death and traditional birth practices. It is concluded that national levels of maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa most likely vary from 250 to 700 per 100,000 live births, in proportion to the variation in overall levels of mortality in the countries. There is a need for more studies either based on data from peripheral hospitals or on community surveys. Such studies should analyse coverage of deliveries, coverage of maternal deaths, causes of maternal deaths, socioeconomic differentials, perinatal mortality and should pay special attention to the increasing problem of abortion-related mortality.

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