Maternity waiting homes: A panacea for maternal/neonatal conundrums in Eritrea

  • G Andemichael
  • B Haile
  • A Kosia
  • J Mufunda


Background: Maternal mortality which is partly due to low skilled care delivery is still less than 30% in most developing countries including Eritrea. Maternity waiting homes were introduced in Eritrea in 2007 as a strategy to mitigate against the attendant high maternal mortality rates in hard to reach regions. Objective: To assess pregnancy outcomes verified through maternal mortality and perinatal mortality rates since the introduction of maternity waiting homes in some hard to reach sub-zobas of Eritrea. Methods: A rapid assessment of the maternity waiting homes was conducted in six sub-zobas of Northern and Southern Red Sea Zones during the period April 20-29, 2009 using questionnaires administered to health workers, community members, traditional birth attendants and the beneficiaries. Results: Heads of a total of 11 health facilities, community leaders, TBAs and mothers who stayed in the maternity waiting homes were interviewed. A total of 862 mothers had delivered in the 20 months since the introduction of the maternity homes from September 2007 till April 2009 averaging 425 annually compared to 266 deliveries in the same facilities prior to introduction of the waiting homes. No maternal death was recorded in the health facilities during that period. There were seven neonatal deaths and seven still births during the same period making the peri-natal death rate of 1.6%. Conclusion: Deliveries in the maternal waiting homes increased deliveries by 56% with no maternal deaths reported, making it a successful strategy targeted at reducing maternal and perinatal mortality rates. The study recommends the upscaling of the strategy because it is costeffective and acceptable to the community as evidenced by the support provided by the community.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1998-6017
print ISSN: 1998-6017