Fewer women are dying during childbirth in Kenya. A new study links the decline in deaths to a reduction in Aids-related deaths in recent years.
Aids prevalence stands at 7.1 per cent, according to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey, 2007. In 1999, the prevalence rate stood at 15 per cent. Aids deaths have reduced due to increased access to anti-retroviral drugs and reduction in stigma.
However, despite the progress that was noted in a global maternal mortality survey published in a British medical journal, Kenya still experiences the world’s 13th-highest number of maternal deaths among 181 countries that were studied.
Some 6,200 Kenyan women died in childbirth in 2008, according to the Gates Foundation-funded study by a team at the University of Washington.
That amounted to roughly 413 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births — a sharp decrease from the 730 per 100,000 recorded eight years earlier.
But Kenya’s rate in 2008 was close to the one for 1990, indicating that maternal mortality spiked during the turn-of-the-century years that also saw the worst ravages from the Aids epidemic.
The recent drop in deaths during childbirth correlates with the nearly 30 per cent drop in Kenya’s Aids mortality rate since 2002.
The researchers say their findings draw attention to “the important adverse effect of the HIV epidemic on the maternal mortality rate, especially in east and southern Africa.”
About half of the 343,000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2008 occurred in six countries — India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the study published in The Lancet.
Mothers’ deaths were highest in Afghanistan (1,575 per 100,000 live births) and lowest in Italy (4 per 100,000).