Audit of Childbirth Emergency Referrals by Trained Traditional Birth Attendants in Enugu, Southeast, Nigeria

  • II Okafor
  • SU Arinze‑Onyia
  • SAR Ohayi
  • JI Onyekpa
  • EO Ugwu
Keywords: Childbirth emergencies, Delay, Outcomes, Referrals, Trained traditional birth attendants


Background: The essence of training traditional birth attendants (TBAs) is to attend to women in uncomplicated labor and to refer them immediately to hospitals when complications develop.

Aim: The aim was to audit childbirth emergency referrals by trained TBAs to a specialist hospital in Enugu, Nigeria.

Subjects and Methods: A retrospective study of 205 childbirth emergencies referred to Semino Hospital and Maternity (SHM), Enugu by trained TBAs from August 1, 2011 to January 31, 2014. Data analysis was descriptive and inferential at 95% confidence level.

Results: Most of the patients (185/205, 90.2%) were married and (100/205, 48.8%) had earlier booked for antenatal care in formal health facilities. There were obstetric danger signs or previous bad obstetric histories (pregnancies with unfavourable outcome) in 110 (110/205, 53.7%) women on admission at SHM. One hundred and fifteen (115/205, 56.1%) women walked into the hospital by themselves while 50 (50/205, 24.39%) could not walk. The fetal heart sounds were normal in 94 (94/205, 45.6%), abnormal in 65 (65/205, 31.8%) and absent in 42 (42/205, 20.4%) of the women on admission. Five healthy babies were delivered by the TBAs before referring their mothers. Delays of more than 12 h had occurred in 155 (155/205, 76.6%) of the women before referrals. Prolonged labor (100/205, 48.8%), obstructed labor (40/205, 19.5%), attempted vaginal birth after previous cesarean delivery (40/205, 19.5%) and malpresentation (30/205, 14.6%) were the common indications for referrals. The maternal mortality and perinatal mortality ratios were 610/100,000 live births and 228/1000 total births respectively.

Conclusion: Delays at TBA centers are common before referral and most patients are referred in poor clinical state. Further training and re‑training of the TBAs with more emphasis on recognition of obstetric danger signs and bad obstetric histories may help in screening high‑risk patients for prompt referral to hospitals before complications develop.


Keywords: Childbirth emergencies, Delay, Outcomes, Referrals, Trained traditional birth attendants


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2141-9248