n South African Medical Journal - Maternal death and caesarean section in South Africa : results from the 2011 - 2013 Report of the National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths : research

Volume 105, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



In the latest (2011 - 2013) report, the National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in South Africa (SA) (NCCEMD) highlights the large number of maternal deaths associated with caesarean section (CS). The risk of a woman dying as a result of CS during the past triennium was almost three times that for vaginal delivery. Of all the mothers who died during or after a CS, 3.4% died during the procedure and 14.5% from haemorrhage afterwards. Including all cases of death from obstetric haemorrhage where a CS was done, there were 5.5 deaths from haemorrhage for every 10 000 CSs performed.

To scrutinise the contribution or effect of the surgical procedure on the ultimate cause of death by a cross-cutting analysis of the 2011 - 2013 national data.
Data from the 2011 - 2013 triennial review were entered into an Excel database and analysed on a national and provincial basis.
There were 1 243 maternal deaths where a CS was the mode of delivery and 1 471 deaths after vaginal delivery. More mothers died as a result of CS in the provinces where there is a low overall CS rate. The following CS categories were identified as specific problems: bleeding during or after CS, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, anaesthesia-related deaths, pregnancy-related sepsis and acute collapse and embolism.
This is an area of concern, and a concentrated effort should be done to make CS in SA safer. Several recommendations are made to this effect.

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