Soc Sci Med. 1993 Sep; 37(6): 745-52.
Maternal mortality in Africa: 1980-87.
Department of Geography, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506.
African women of reproductive age have the highest death risk from maternal causes of any women in the world. The lifetime chance of maternal death is 1 in 21 in Africa as compared to 1 in 54 in Asia, which ranks second. Using published data, this paper examines the level and correlates of maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Africa. The data indicates that MMR greatly differs among the countries of Africa. High MMR is found in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, while countries of Northern Africa are characterized by relatively low maternal death. Reasons for high MMR in sub-Saharan Africa are explored in detail. Analysis using multiple regression suggests that the MMR in Africa is strongly influenced by population size, crude birth rate (CBR), crude death rate (CDR), calorie supply as a percentage of requirements, access to safe water, and percentage of urban population. Some cultural and behavioral factors, such as female circumcision and infibulation, are also associated with a high MMR. Future programs aimed at reducing the maternal mortality in African countries may benefit from the findings of this study.