Measuring maternal mortality: An overview of opportunities and options for developing countries

W. J. Graham, Saifuddin Ahmed, C. Stanton, C. L. Abou-Zahr, O. M R Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: There is currently an unprecedented expressed need and demand for estimates of maternal mortality in developing countries. This has been stimulated in part by the creation of a Millennium Development Goal that will be judged partly on the basis of reductions in maternal mortality by 2015. Methods: Since the launch of the Safe Motherhood Initiative in 1987, new opportunities for data capture have arisen and new methods have been developed, tested and used. This paper provides a pragmatic overview of these methods and the optimal measurement strategies for different developing country contexts. Results: There are significant recent advances in the measurement of maternal mortality, yet also room for further improvement, particularly in assessing the magnitude and direction of biases and their implications for different data uses. Some of the innovations in measurement provide efficient mechanisms for gathering the requisite primary data at a reasonably low cost. No method, however, has zero costs. Investment is needed in measurement strategies for maternal mortality suited to the needs and resources of a country, and which also strengthen the technical capacity to generate and use credible estimates. Conclusion: Ownership of information is necessary for it to be acted upon: what you count is what you do. Difficulties with measurement must not be allowed to discourage efforts to reduce maternal mortality. Countries must be encouraged and enabled to count maternal deaths and act.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - May 26 2008

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Maternal Mortality
Developing Countries
Costs and Cost Analysis
Maternal Death
Ownership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Measuring maternal mortality : An overview of opportunities and options for developing countries. / Graham, W. J.; Ahmed, Saifuddin; Stanton, C.; Abou-Zahr, C. L.; Campbell, O. M R.

In: BMC Medicine, Vol. 6, 12, 26.05.2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Graham, W. J. ; Ahmed, Saifuddin ; Stanton, C. ; Abou-Zahr, C. L. ; Campbell, O. M R. / Measuring maternal mortality : An overview of opportunities and options for developing countries. In: BMC Medicine. 2008 ; Vol. 6.
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