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Postpartum care in sub-Saharan Africa: insufficient and unequal

Alfredo L. Fort, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
Monica Kothari, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
Noureddine Abderrahim, Macro International Inc.

High maternal mortality rates still exist in the developing world, particularly in SubSaharan Africa. Postpartum haemorrhage is a common cause occurring shortly after birth that can be prevented or promptly managed through postpartum care (PPC). Using DHS data for 19 SubSaharan African countries, from 1999 to 2004, the study finds that about one-half of births occur outside health institutions, and the large majority of these do not receive PPC. When provided, timing of first care is after two days post delivery. Women more likely to receive PPC are wealthier, had received previous antenatal care, are educated beyond primary level, live in urban areas and have had more media exposure. Postpartum care in Africa is still scarce and delayed, and benefits better-off women. Increased skilled attendance at delivery or within hours after birth –at a health institution or at home- are advocated to contribute to reduce MMR in Africa.

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Presented in Session 88: Inequalities in access to maternal health services