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Basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care in 12 South African health districts

Robert Clive Pattinson, Jennifer D Makin, Yogan Pillay, Nynke van der Broek, Jack Moodley

Abstract


Aim. To assess the functionality of healthcare facilities with respect to providing the signal functions of basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care in 12 districts.

Setting. Twelve districts were selected from the 52 districts in South Africa, based on the number of maternal deaths, the institutional maternal mortality ratio and the stillbirth rate for the district.

Methods. All community health centres (CHCs) and district, regional and tertiary hospitals were visited and detailed information was obtained on the ability of the facility to perform the basic (BEmONC) and comprehensive (CEmONC) emergency obstetric and neonatal care signal functions.

Results. Fifty-three CHCs, 63 district hospitals (DHs), 13 regional hospitals and 4 tertiary hospitals were assessed. None of the CHCs could perform all seven BEmONC signal functions; the majority could not give parenteral antibiotics (68%), perform manual removal of the placenta (58%), do an assisted delivery (98%) or perform manual vacuum aspiration of the uterus in a woman with an uncomplicated incomplete miscarriage (96%). Seventeen per cent of CHCs could not bag-and-mask ventilate a neonate. Less than half (48%) of the DHs could perform all nine CEmONC signal functions (81% could perform eight of the nine functions), 24% could not perform caesarean sections, and 30% could not perform assisted deliveries.

Conclusions. The ability of the CHCs and district hospitals to perform the signal functions (lifesaving services) of basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care was poor in many of the districts studied. This implies that safe maternity care was not consistently available at many facilities conducting births.

Authors' affiliations

Robert Clive Pattinson, South African Medical Research Council Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Jennifer D Makin, South African Medical Research Council Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Yogan Pillay, Deputy Director-General for Programmes, National Department of Health, South Africa

Nynke van der Broek, Maternal and Child Health Department, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK

Jack Moodley, Chairman, Emergency Obstetric Simulation Training Board, South Africa; National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in South Africa

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Keywords

Signal functions; Basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care; Maternal mortality; Safe maternal care

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(4):256-260. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.9181

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-11-17
Date published: 2015-03-01

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