Maternal death and obstetric care audits in Nigeria: a systematic review of barriers and enabling factors in the provision of emergency care

Julia Hussein, Atsumi Hirose, Oluwatoyin Owolabi, Mari Imamura, Lovney Kanguru, Friday Okonofua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Maternal death reviews and obstetric audits identify causes and circumstances related to occurrence of a maternal death or serious complication and inform improvements in quality of care. Given Nigeria's high maternal mortality, the lessons learned from past experiences can provide a good evidence base for informed decision making. We aimed to synthesise findings from maternal death reviews and other obstetric audits conducted in Nigeria through a systematic review, seeking to identify common barriers and enabling factors related to the provision of emergency obstetric care.

METHODS: We searched for maternal death reviews and obstetric care audits reported in the published literature from 2000-2014. A 'best-fit' framework approach was used to extract data using a structured data extraction form. The articles that met the inclusion criteria were assessed using a nine point quality score.

RESULTS: Of the 1,841 abstracts and titles at initial screening, 329 full text articles were reviewed and 43 papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Four types of barriers were reported related to: transport and referral; health workers; availability of services; and organisational factors. Three elements stand out in Nigeria as contributing to maternal mortality: delays in Caesarean section, unavailability of magnesium sulphate and lack of safe blood transfusion services.

CONCLUSIONS: Obstetric care reviews and audits are useful activities to undertake and should be promoted by improving the processes used to conduct them, as well as extending their implementation to rural and basic level health facilities and to the community. Urgent areas for quality improvement in obstetric care, even in tertiary and teaching hospitals should focus on organisational factors to reduce delays in conducting Caesarean section and making blood and magnesium sulphate available for all who need these interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalReproductive Health
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank Yutaka Osakabe for co-ordinating the retrieval of full text articles. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supported this study, grant number 12-100074-000-INP


  • maternal mortality
  • maternal death reviews
  • audit
  • surveillance and response
  • quality improvement
  • emergency obstetric care


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