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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


BAC, Μ; PATTINSON, R C  and  BERGH, A-M. Changing priorities in maternal and perinatal health in Gert Sibande District, South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.11, pp.838-840. ISSN 2078-5135.

Gert Sibande District is a predominantly rural district in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa (SA), with a population of just over 1.1 million. It has a high prevalence of HIV infection and pregnancy-related hypertensive disease. In 2010 the district was one of the worst-performing health districts in SA, with a maternal mortality ratio of 328.0 per 100 000 births. Various programmes were introduced between 2010 and 2017 to address major causes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in the district. The focus has been on HIV-related morbidity, the direct obstetric causes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, and health systems strengthening. During the period 2010 - 2017, there was a steady decline in institutional maternal mortality with a drop of 71% in maternal deaths over a period of 6 years, from 328.0 per 100 000 births to 95.0. However, the ratio levelled off in 2016 and 2017, mainly as a result of a changing disease profile. The stillbirth rate showed a decline of 24.4% over a period of 8 years. With perseverance, rapid response and evidence-based strategies it was possible to more than halve the institutional maternal mortality ratio within 6 years. However, with the changing disease profile, conditions such as hypertensive disease in pregnancy should be prioritised and new strategies developed to further reduce maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity.

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