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Reproductive health in rural Malawi: a population-based survey

Van Den Broek, Nynke ORCID:, White, S. A., Ntonya, C., Ngwale, M., Cullinan, T. R., Molyneux, M. E. and Neilson, J. P. (2003) 'Reproductive health in rural Malawi: a population-based survey'. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Vol 110, Issue 10, pp. 902-908.

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Objectives To assess pregnancy outcome, maternal mortality and health-seeking behaviour in a rural African population and to assess the effects on these of women's education, distance from a health centre and household type. Design Descriptive population-based study. Setting A rural community in southern Malawi. Population All women living in the catchment area of a rural health centre. Methods Interviews with women in 20,649 households using structured questionnaires. Main outcome measures Pregnancy outcome, the effect of women's education, distance from a health centre and household type on pregnancy outcome, maternal morbidity and estimates of maternal and perinatal mortality. Results Educational level was lower for women than for men. A significant association was found between educational level and fertility. Women aged 45-49 reported an average of six pregnancies with four resulting in currently living children. Successful pregnancy outcome was more likely with increased education and if the woman lived closer to the health centre. Despite living an average of 5 km from the health centre, over 90% of women attended antenatal clinic with a mean of five visits. Assistance at delivery by a trained health care worker was more likely as education increased and was less likely as distance from the health centre increased. Maternal mortality was reported at 413 per 100,000 deliveries (95% Cl 144-682). The perinatal mortality rate in this population was estimated at 30 per 1000. An increased perinatal mortality was noted for women who were delivered by a female relative. Perinatal mortality rates were similar for delivery by a traditional birth attendant or a trained nurse-midwife. Education and proximity to the health centre were both associated with improved outcome. Conclusions Many women in this rural community suffer the consequences of high pregnancy loss. Maternal and perinatal mortality are high. Improved education and skilled assistance at delivery can result in improved pregnancy outcome. Proximity of any household to a health centre has an effect on outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > Health Services. Patients and Patient Advocacy > W 85 Patients. Attitude and compliance
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 309 Women's health
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WQ Obstetrics > Childbirth. Prenatal Care > WQ 175 Prenatal care
WQ Obstetrics > Pregnancy > WQ 200 General works
WQ Obstetrics > Pregnancy Complications > WQ 240 Pregnancy complications (General)
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Martin Chapman
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2012 10:43
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2018 11:16


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