With the reduction of maternal mortality, maternal near miss (MNM) has been used as a complementary indicator of maternal health. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of MNM in eastern Ethiopia using an adapted sub-Saharan Africa MNM tool and compare its applicability with the original WHO MNM tool.
We applied the sub-Saharan Africa and WHO MNM criteria to 1054 women admitted with potentially life-threatening conditions (including 28 deaths) in Hiwot Fana Specialized University Hospital and Jugel Hospital between January 2016 and April 2017. Discharge records were examined to identify deaths or women who developed MNM according to the sub-Saharan or WHO criteria. We calculated and compared MNM and severe maternal outcome ratios. Mortality index (ratio of maternal deaths to SMO) was calculated as indicator of quality of care.
The sub-Saharan Africa criteria identified 594 cases of MNM and all the 28 deaths while the WHO criteria identified 128 cases of MNM and 26 deaths. There were 7404 livebirths during the same period. This gives MNM ratios of 80 versus 17 per 1000 live births for the adapted and original WHO criteria. Mortality index was 4.5% and 16.9% in the adapted and WHO criteria respectively. The major difference between the two criteria can be attributed to eclampsia, sepsis and differences in the threshold for transfusion of blood.
The sub-Saharan Africa criteria identified all the MNM cases identified by the WHO criteria and all the maternal deaths. Applying the WHO criteria alone will cause under reporting of MNM cases (including maternal deaths) in this low-resource setting. The mortality index of 4.5% among women who fulfilled the adapted MNM criteria justifies labeling these women as having ‘life-threatening conditions’.