A community based investigation of causes of maternal mortality in rural and urban Zimbabwe. Maternal Mortality Study Group.

The Central African journal of medicine

PubMedID: 7788680

Fawcus S, Mbizvo MT, Lindmark G, Nystrom L. A community based investigation of causes of maternal mortality in rural and urban Zimbabwe. Maternal Mortality Study Group. Cent Afr J Med. 1995;41(4):105-13.
Most data on maternal mortality in Zimbabwe has been urban hospital based. Using a network of informants and sensitized health workers an attempt was made to identify and investigate all maternal deaths in rural Masvingo and urban Harare over a two year period. The present report discusses place of death and the medical causes in both populations. Results gave maternal mortality rates of 168 and 85 per 100,000 live births for Masvingo and Harare respectively. These rates are significantly higher than those from conventional reporting systems especially in the rural area where 27 pc of deaths occurred at home or in transit. The leading medical causes of death were haemorrhage in Masvingo (25 pc of deaths) and eclampsia in Harare (26 pc), with puerperal and post abortal sepsis as the next most common causes in both cases. Malaria featured as the major indirect cause in Masvingo (7.6 pc). There were four suicides committed following unwanted pregnancy. The rural/urban variation in causation of death is discussed and the study results compared with other community based studies internationally. Synopsis: This community based study revealed higher maternal mortality rates (MMR) than conventional statistics, especially in the rural area where deaths occurred at home or in transit. In the rural area the MMR was higher and the leading cause of death was haemorrhage, compared to eclampsia in the urban area. Strategies to reduce maternal deaths should include factors both within and outside health service structures.