Effects of maternal mortality on gross domestic product (GDP) in the WHO African region

  • Joses M Kirigia World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo
  • Doyin Oluwole World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo
  • Germano M Mwabu Department of Economics, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Doris Gatwiri School of Public Health, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Lenity H Kainyu School of Public Health, Kenyatta University, Kenya


WHO African region has got the highest maternal mortality rate compared to the other five regions. Maternal mortality is hypothesized to have significantly negative effect on the gross domestic product (GDP). The objective of the current study was to estimate the loss in GDP attributable to maternal mortality in the WHO African Region. The burden of maternal mortality on GDP was estimated using a double-log econometric model. The analysis is based on cross-sectional data for 45 of the 46 Member States in the WHO African Region. Data were obtained from UNDP and the World Bank publications. All the explanatory variables included in the double-log model were found to have statistically significant effect on per capita gross domestic product (GDP) at 5% level in a t-distribution test. The coefficients for land (D), capital (K), educational enrolment (EN) and exports (X) had a positive sign; while labor (L), imports (M) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) were found to impact negatively on GDP. Maternal mortality of a single person was found to reduce per capita GDP by US$ 0.36 per year. The study has demonstrated that maternal mortality has a statistically significant negative effect on GDP. Thus, as policy-makers strive to increase GDP through land reform programs, capital investments, export promotion and increase in educational enrolment, they should always remember that investments in maternal mortality-reducing interventions promises significant economic returns.

African Journal of Health Sciences Vol. 12(3-4) 2005: 55-64

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eISSN: 1022-9272