Trends in perinatal health indices in the Amajuba District, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 1990 - 2012
Background. In order to address the high perinatal mortality rate, South Africa (SA) commenced a number of interventions from 1995. These included the abolition of user fees, basic antenatal care, on-the-spot diagnosis and treatment of syphilis, and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. However, there is a dearth of information on the long-term effect of these programmes on perinatal indicators in district hospitals, where most births and deaths occur.
Objective. To determine the levels and trends in maternal and neonatal indicators in Amajuba District, KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA, and to ascertain the dynamics of these indicators vis-à-vis the transformation of healthcare in SA.
Methods. The study location was Madadeni Hospital and its nine feeder maternity clinics. Information pertaining to all deliveries and their outcome from these health facilities from 1990 to 2012 was extracted from the clinical registers. Data were analysed using SPSS version 15.0 (IBM, USA). Quantitative variables were summarised as means, while qualitative data were expressed as proportions and percentages. The trends for each outcome variable for the entire study period (1990 - 2012) were analysed and presented as line graphs and tables.
Results. There were 154 821 live births and 4 133 stillbirths from 1990 to 2012. The overall mean values for stillbirth rate, perinatal mortality rate, neonatal mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio were 26.3 (standard deviation 5.6), 40.9 (9.6), 16.8 (4.7) and 114 (56.6), respectively. There was a general improvement in all the perinatal health indices in the early 90s, followed by a general worsening until the early 2000s, after which a consistent decline was noted.
Conclusion. The perinatal health indices in Amajuba District have followed a pattern similar to that found in the rest of SA: an increase during the late 90s to early 2000s, followed by a decline from the late second half of the first decade of this century.