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Time series analysis of maternal mortality in Africa from 1990 to 2005
  1. Maral DerSarkissian1,
  2. Caroline A Thompson1,
  3. Onyebuchi A Arah1,2,3,4,5
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2Center for Global and Immigrant Health, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3Center for Health Policy Research, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
  4. 4California Center for Population Research, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
  5. 5Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Maral DerSarkissian, Department of Epidemiology, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, 5416 La Crescenta Ave. La Crescenta, Los Angeles, CA 91214, USA; mdersarkissian{at}


Objectives Most global maternal deaths occur in Africa and Asia. In response, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG-5) calls for a 75% reduction in maternal mortality from 1990 to 2015. To assess the potential for progress in MDG-5 in Africa, we examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of socioeconomic, demographic and population-health factors with maternal mortality rates in Africa.

Methods We used data from global agencies and the published literature to identify socioeconomic, demographic and population-health explanatory factors that could be correlated with maternal mortality in 49 countries of Africa for the years 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005. We used correlation, negative binomial and mixed Poisson regression models to investigate whether there exist associations between potential explanatory factors and maternal mortality.

Results Some African countries have made substantial progress towards achieving MDG-5 while others have fallen behind. Lower gross domestic product (GDP) and female enrolment in primary schools, but higher HIV prevalence, neonatal mortality rate and total fertility rate, were associated with higher maternal mortality.

Conclusions Maternal mortality rates in African countries appear to be declining. The mean maternal mortality ratios in Africa decreased from 695.82 in 1990 to 562.18 in 2005. Yet some countries are more likely than others to achieve MDG-5. Better socioeconomic, demographic and population health development appear to be conducive to better maternal health in Africa. Sustained efforts on all these fronts will be needed to close the gap in maternal survival and achieve MDG-5 in Africa.


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