n South African Medical Journal - Impact of inter-facility transport on maternal mortality in the Free State Province : research




In December 2011, having identified inter-facility transport as a problem in the maternity service, the Free State Department of Health procured and issued 48 vehicles including 18 dedicated to maternity care. Subsequently, a sustained reduction in mortality was observed. We probed the role of inter-facility transport in effecting this reduction in mortality.

A before-after analysis was performed of data from 2 separate databases, including the district health information system and the emergency medical and rescue services call-centre database. Data were compared for a 12-month prior- and 10-month post-intervention period using descriptive and correlation statistics.
The maternal mortality decreased from 279/100 000 live births during 2011 to 152/100 000 live births during 2012. The mean dispatch interval decreased from 32.01 to 22.47 minutes. The number of vehicles dispatched within 1 hour increased from 84.2% to 90.7% (<0.0001). Monthly mean dispatch interval curves closely mirrored the maternal mortality curve.
Effective and prompt inter-facility transport of patients with pregnancy complications to an appropriate facility resulted in a reduction of maternal mortality. Health authorities should prioritise funding for inter-facility vehicles for maternity services to ensure prompt access of pregnant women to centres with skills available to manage obstetric emergencies.


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