Study: Expectant mothers 'mostly die at night'

Friday February 19 2016

A pregnant woman. PHOTO | FILE

A pregnant woman. PHOTO | FILE 

More by this Author

A majority of expectant mothers in hospitals die at night, during weekends and on public holidays when most doctors are away, a survey has revealed.

The high night deaths are also due to the fact that a majority of women experience labour at night because their biological clock responds to light stimulus.

When darkness sets in, it triggers labour, the survey by the Ministry of Health says.

The survey titled, ‘Maternal Death Surveillance Response 2013- 2015’ revealed that junior medical staff are mostly on duty at night, but because they cannot handle emergency cases, mothers do not get the best service.


While discussing the report in Kisumu on Thursday, Dr Mathias Odera Aketch, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, said lack of drugs for resuscitation in some of the hospitals could also lead to deaths.

“It is very unfortunate that some of the hospitals with maternity services lack skilled doctors and drugs to resuscitate mothers in cases of emergency. The ratio of a mother to midwife is 1: 10,” said Dr Aketch.

The gynaecologist, who spoke during the 40th Ruby Annual Scientific Conference of the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS), revealed that most of the women who die are aged between 15 and 25.

“The women are not old. We are losing young mothers to maternal deaths. When I witness the deaths, I feel like crying,” he said.

Dr Maraga Orora, head of reproductive health at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, said mothers’ deaths occur mostly as a result of acute bleeding.

Lack of skilled staff to take care of them in some hospitals was also a critical factor, he added.

“Doctors are supposed to work in shifts and on call but if a bleeding mother is not attended to in the shortest time possible, then she will be gone,” he said.

Matters are complicated by lack of blood stocks in many health facilities, he said.

The report was done in conjunction with the Liverpool School of Medicine.