Maternal near-miss surveillance, Namibia

Heemelaar, S., Josef, M., Diener, Z., Chipeio, M., Stekelenburg, J., van den Akker, T. & Mackenzie, S., 1-Aug-2020, In : Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 98, 8, p. 548-557 10 p.

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  • Maternal near-miss surveillance, Namibia

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  • Steffie Heemelaar
  • Mirjam Josef
  • Zoe Diener
  • Melody Chipeio
  • Jelle Stekelenburg
  • Thomas van den Akker
  • Shonag Mackenzie

Objective: To analyse and improve the Namibian maternity care system by implementing maternal near-miss surveillance during 1 October 2018 and 31 March 2019, and identifying the challenges and benefits of such data collection.

Methods: From the results of an initial feasibility study, we adapted the World Health Organization's criteria defining a maternal near miss to the Namibian health-care system. We visited most (27 out of 35) participating facilities before implementation and provided training on maternal near-miss identification and data collection. We visited all facilities at the end of the surveillance period to verify recorded data and to give staff the opportunity to provide feedback.

Findings: During the 6-month period, we recorded 37 106 live births, 298 maternal near misses (8.0 per 1000 live births) and 23 maternal deaths (62.0 per 100 000 live births). We observed that obstetric haemorrhage and hypertensive disorders were the most common causes of maternal near misses (each 92/298; 30.9%). Of the 49 maternal near misses due to pregnancies with abortive outcomes, ectopic pregnancy was the most common cause (36/298; 12.1%). Fetal or neonatal outcomes were poor; only 50.3% (157/312) of the infants born to maternal near-miss mothers went home with their mother.

Conclusion: Maternal near-miss surveillance is a useful intervention to identify within-country challenges, such as lack of access to caesarean section or hysterectomy. Knowledge of these challenges can be used by policy-makers and programme managers in the development of locally tailored targeted interventions to improve maternal outcome in their setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-557
Number of pages10
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1-Aug-2020



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