n South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology - Reducing direct causes of maternal death : editorial

Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0038-2329
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Three conditions are responsible for almost two-thirds of potentially avoidable maternal deaths in South Africa: non-pregnancy-related infections (most are HIV-related), obstetric haemorrhage, and complications of hypertension in pregnancy. Although there has been a significant reduction in maternal deaths due to non-pregnancy-related infections, as shown in the Ninth Interim report (in press; authored by R C Pattinson, J Moodley and S Fawcus), deaths due to obstetric haemorrhage and complications of hypertension in pregnancy have remained stubbornly high. Birth asphyxia is the most common cause of perinatal death in South Africa for babies weighing over 1 000 g, and this has not decreased significantly for more than a decade.

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