Prevention and management of severe pre-eclampsia/eclampsia in afghanistan

Young M. Kim, Nasratullah Ansari, Adrienne Kols, Hannah Tappis, Sheena Currie, Partamin Zainullah, Patricia Bailey, Jos van Roosmalen, Jelle Stekelenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: An evidence-based strategy exists to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality associated with severe pre-eclampsia/eclampsia (PE/E), but it may be difficult to implement in low-resource settings. This study examines whether facilities that provide emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) in Afghanistan have the capacity to manage severe PE/E cases.Methods: A further analysis was conducted of the 2009-10 Afghanistan EmONC Needs Assessment. Assessors observed equipment and supplies available, and services provided at 78 of the 127 facilities offering comprehensive EmONC services and interviewed 224 providers. The providers also completed a written case scenario on severe PE/E. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize facility and provider characteristics. Student t-test, one-way ANOVA, and chi-square tests were performed to determine whether there were significant differences between facility types, doctors and midwives, and trained and untrained providers.Results: The median number of severe PE/E cases in the past year was just 5 (range 0-42) at comprehensive health centers (CHCs) and district hospitals, compared with 44 (range 0-130) at provincial hospitals and 108 (range 32-540) at regional and specialized hospitals (p < 0.001). Most facilities had the drugs and supplies needed to treat severe PE/E, including the preferred anticonvulsant, magnesium sulfate (MgSO4). One-third of the smallest facilities and half of larger facilities reported administering a second-line drug, diazepam, in some cases. In the case scenario, 96% of doctors and 89% of midwives recognized that MgSO4 should be used to manage severe PE/E, but 42% of doctors and 58% of midwives also thought diazepam had a role to play. Providers who were trained on the use of MgSO4 scored significantly higher than untrained providers on six of 20 items in the case scenario. Providers at larger facilities significantly outscored those at smaller facilities on five items. There was a significant difference between doctors and midwives on only one item: continued use of anti-hypertensives after convulsions are controlled.Conclusions: Drugs and supplies needed to treat severe PE/E are widely available at EmONC facilities in Afghanistan, but providers lack knowledge in some areas, especially concerning the use of MgSO4 and diazepam. Providers who have specialized training or work at larger facilities are better at managing cases of severe PE/E. The findings suggest a need to clarify service delivery guidelines, offer refresher training, and reinforce best practices with supervision and reinforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number186
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
StatePublished - Oct 12 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Afghanistan
  • Eclampsia
  • Emergency obstetric care
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Pre-eclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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