Counties with highest burden Maternal Mortality

 

COURTESY OF UNFPA Kenya

13th August 2014

Maternal mortality is one of the indicators of reproductive health status of the population. Efforts to reduce maternal deaths have for decades been a focal point of international agreements and a priority for women’s rights and health groups throughout the world because a maternal death is one of life’s most tragic outcomes. The irony is that almost all maternal deaths are entirely preventable given proper medical surveillance and intervention.

In the last round of censuses, the United Statistics Statistical Division (UNSD) encouraged many developing countries to include questions on pregnancy related deaths as a way of helping improve on the quantity and quality of data needed in the estimation of maternal mortality in the world. This was subsequently adopted in the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing census.   Respondents were asked to report any death in the household in the last 12 months prior to enumeration. These were subsequently named the recent deaths in the household.  Among the deceased females age 12 to 49 subsequent questions were asked on whether the female deaths were pregnancy related (i.e. during pregnancy, during delivery or within two months after delivery).

Measurement of maternal mortality

Several indicators are used to measure maternal mortality in order to display sources of different risks as well as interventions. In the first place, all maternal deaths as outcomes from pregnancy and the first definition ispregnancy-related death which is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the cause of death.  When information on the cause of death is available, then we have maternal death, which is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.

However, for comparison purposes between different contexts due to differences in the risk of pregnancy maternal mortality ratio (MMR) are often used. Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is thus the number of maternal deaths during a given time period per 100,000 live births during the same time period. MMR captures the risk of death in a single pregnancy or a single live birth or in technical terms it measures the extent of obstetric risk.

In the entire country, a total of about 32,021 women of reproductive age were reported to have died out of which 6,632 died of pregnancy related causes. Out of the total number of women of reproductive age who had died, 21 percent was as a result of pregnancy related causes. Table 1 shows the ranking of top 15 counties by number of maternal deaths and maternal mortality ratio. Columns 1-3 are the ranks by number of   maternal deaths. It indicates that only 15 out of 47 counties account for 98.7 % of the total maternal deaths in the country. However, the number of deaths masks important considerations such as the size of women population in the region as well as the frequency of pregnancies, an alternative ranking is by maternal mortality ratio which takes into account the obstetric risk. This is provided from column 4 to 6. Mandera and Wajir still rank highest in terms of absolute number of maternal deaths as well as the increased obstetric risks.

 

TABLE 1: RANKING OF COUNTIES BY NUMBER OF MATERNAL DEATHS AND MATERNAL MORTALITY RATIO

Rank Region maternal deaths Rank Region Maternal mortality ratio (deaths per 100,000 live birth
KENYA 6,623 KENYA 495
1 MANDERA 2,136 1 MANDERA 3795
2 WAJIR 581 2 WAJIR 1683
3 NAIROBI 533 3 TURKANA 1594
4 NAKURU 444 4 MARSABIT 1127
5 KAKAMEGA 364 5 ISIOLO 790
6 KILIFI 289 6 SIAYA 691
7 NANDI 266 7 LAMU 676
8 BUNGOMA 266 8 MIGORI 673
9 HOMABAY 262 9 GARISSA 646
10 MIGORI 257 10 TAITATAVETA 603
11 KISUMU 249 11 KISUMU 597
12 SIAYA 246 12 HOMABAY 583
13 TRANSNZOIA 234 13 VIHIGA 531
14 GARISSA 208 14 SAMBURU 472
15 KWALE 203 15 WESTPOKOT 434
Other counties 85
Total 6,538
Percent of the total number of deaths 98.7

 

Although Nairobi, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kilifi, Nandi Bungoma, and Kwale rank higher in terms of number deaths, in terms of MMR they do not rank higher. In terms of the maternal mortality burden it is therefore important to include risks in number of deaths as well as obstetric risk. This is shown in Table 2. At national level nearly half of deaths (48 %) occur during delivery. In 5 counties (Lamu, Garissa, wajir, Mandera and Turkana) over half of deaths occur during delivery. The county with highest proportion dying during pregnancy is Marsabit. Siaya, Kisumu and Taita taveta have the highest proportion dying in the post-partum period. The implication here is that different factors influence the risk of maternal death in the different counties. Kenya is among the top 10 Countries with the highest number of HIV-associated maternal deaths and about 20 percent of maternal deaths is indirectly related to HIV. Thus HIV may be important in Nyanza region counties which have the highest prevalence of HIV while other factors may be important in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa with low prevalence of HIV.

 

TABLE 2: RANKING OF COUNTIES BY BURDEN OF MATERNAL MORTALITY

County Maternal deaths MMR Percent of deaths during
Pregnancy Delivery 2 months after delivery
Mandera 2,136 3795 28 56 16
Turkana 175 1594 24 54 22
Wajir 581 1683 28 60 12
Migori 257 673 24 45 30
Nakuru 444 374 28 40 31
Siaya 246 691 22 28 50
Kisumu 249 597 18 33 48
Nairobi 533 212 25 38 38
Homa Bay 262 583 22 34 43
Kakamega 364 316 20 44 36
Garissa 208 646 25 61 13
Marsabit 97 1127 30 47 23
TaitaTaveta 129 603 16 36 48
Isiolo 32 790 25 56 19
Lamu 52 676 10 65 25
Kenya 6,623 495 26 48 26

– See more at: http://kenya.unfpa.org/news/counties-highest-burden-maternal-mortality#sthash.tt7GUS3y.dpuf

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