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South Africa’s rising maternal mortality is due to health system failures, says report

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d5089 (Published 08 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5089
  1. Peter Moszynski
  1. 1London

Despite having the highest health spending per person in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is unlikely to meet its target of reducing maternal mortality under the United Nations’ millennium development goals, says a new report by Human Rights Watch.

Maternal mortality rates have generally fallen across sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, in keeping with the global target of a 75% reduction in 1999 rates by 2015. But South Africa’s maternal mortality rate has more than quadrupled in the past decade, “leaping from 150 to 625 deaths per 100 000 live births between 1998 and 2007,” says the report.

The report concedes that data on maternal mortality are notoriously difficult to gather and evaluate, and it says that the rise is probably due to an increase in reporting …

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