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‘Women and babies are dying but not of Ebola’: the effect of the Ebola virus epidemic on the availability, uptake and outcomes of maternal and newborn health services in Sierra Leone

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Jones, Susan, Gopalakrishnan, Somla ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7833-5367, Ameh, Charles ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2341-7605, White, Sarah and van den Broek, Nynke ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8523-2684 (2016) '‘Women and babies are dying but not of Ebola’: the effect of the Ebola virus epidemic on the availability, uptake and outcomes of maternal and newborn health services in Sierra Leone'. BMJ Global Health, Vol 1, Issue 3, e000065.

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Abstract

Background
We sought to determine the impact of the Ebola virus epidemic on the availability, uptake and outcome of routine maternity services in Sierra Leone.

Methods
The number of antenatal and postnatal visits, institutional births, availability of emergency obstetric care (EmOC), maternal deaths and stillbirths were assessed by month, by districts and by level of healthcare for 10 months during, and 12 months prior to, the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic. All healthcare facilities designated to provide comprehensive (n=13) or basic (n=67) EmOC across the 13 districts of Sierra Leone were included.

Results
Preservice students were not deployed during the EVD epidemic. The number of healthcare providers in facilities remained constant (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.03, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.07). Availability of antibiotics, oxytocics, anticonvulsants, manual removal of placenta, removal of retained products of conception, blood transfusion and caesarean section were not affected by the EVD epidemic. Across Sierra Leone, following the onset of the EVD epidemic, there was a 18% decrease in the number of women attending for antenatal (IRR 0.82, 95% CI 0.79 to 0.84); 22% decrease in postnatal attendance (IRR 0.78, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.80) visits and 11% decrease in the number of women attending for birth at a healthcare facility (IRR 0.89, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.91). There was a corresponding 34% increase in the facility maternal mortality ratio (IRR 1.34, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.69) and 24% increase in the stillbirth rate (IRR 1.24, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.35).

Conclusions
During the EVD epidemic, fewer pregnant women accessed healthcare. For those who did, an increase in maternal mortality and stillbirth was observed. In the post-Ebola phase, ‘readiness’ (or not) of the global partners for large-scale epidemics has been the focus of debate. The level of functioning of the health system with regard to ability to continue to provide high-quality effective routine care needs more attention.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > Health Services. Patients and Patient Advocacy > W 84 Health services. Delivery of health care
WA Public Health > WA 105 Epidemiology
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 310 Maternal welfare
WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. Other Virus Diseases > WC 534 Viral hemorrhagic fevers
WQ Obstetrics > WQ 100 General works
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2016-000065
Depositing User: Caroline Hercod
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2016 14:22
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2019 09:15
URI: https://archive.lstmed.ac.uk/id/eprint/6277

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