News and updates

Nepal | building on MPDRs to implement MPDSR

Nepal has shown significant progress in reducing maternal and perinatal mortality over the past two decades (see Table 1). Despite progress, maternal mortality in Nepal continues to be one of the main causes of death among women of reproductive age and a major public health problem. In 2015, it was estimated that about 1500 women died in Nepal during pregnancy, delivery and the puerperium period (WHO 2015).  While it is clearly important to monitor this, the maternal mortality ratio only illustrates part of the story. There is a real need to better understand the story behind the maternal mortality change over the past 10 years and to put in place the necessary steps to prevent maternal deaths in the future. Thus, Nepal has been undertaking a number of initiatives to identify programmatically useful information to inform investment and interventions in maternal health.

Table 1: Estimates on the maternal mortality ratio, neonatal mortality rate and perinatal mortality rate

Years 1995 2006 2011 2015
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births)[1] 660 258
Neonatal mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)[2] 47.7 22.2
Perinatal mortality rate (per 1,000 births)[3] 45 37

Note: the next Demographic Health Survey for Nepal will report data from 2016.

In 1990, a maternal death review process was first introduced in Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital in Kathmandu, the only maternity hospital in the country. The hospital began implementing perinatal death review in 2003. By 2006, maternal and perinatal death reviews were being conducted in six hospitals increasing to 44 referral hospitals by 2014. Furthermore, maternal mortality and morbidity studies were undertaken in three districts in 1998 increasing to eight districts in 2008-9.

In line with the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability / World Health Organization (CoIA/WHO), the Government of Nepal (GoN) initiated a maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response system in 2014. The system builds on experiences from MPDR implementation and the maternal mortality and morbidity study.

While facility-based reviews of maternal and perinatal deaths continue in 44 referral hospitals, the GoN, with support from the WHO and other partners has been implementing MPDSR in five districts, namely Banke, Dhading, Kailali, Kaski and Solukhumbu since 2016. In these districts, MPDSR is implemented at two levels: health facility and community. At the facility level, both maternal and perinatal deaths are reviewed and appropriate actions are taken. In the community, verbal autopsies are conducted for maternal deaths only.

Diagram 1 (see link below) presents the role of different stakeholders/actors in MDSR at the community level and MPDSR at the facility level.

diagram-1_mdsr-mpdsr-process-in-nepal

The Ministry of Health of Nepal, with support from the WHO, UNICEF, Nepal Health Sector Support Programme / Department for International Development and other partners, has taken the lead and made a commitment to gradually scale up maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response to all hospitals across the country by 2020 and ultimately expand to include community-based maternal death surveillance and response. A series of planning meetings are taking place with  experts to finalise the training modules, review processes, and develop implementation guidelines, to name a few.

REFERENCES

World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, the World Bank Group & the United Nations Population Division. (2015). Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 – 2015. Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division. Geneva: WHO.

Acknowledgements: This country update was prepared and reviewed by Dr Sharad Kumar Sharma, Senior Demographer, Family Health Division, DoHS, MoH; Dr Pooja Pradhan, WHO Country Office, Nepal; and Mr Pradeep Poudel, NHSSP/DFID/MoH, Nepal.

[1] World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, the World Bank Group & the United Nations Population Division. (2015). Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 – 2015. Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division. Geneva: WHO.

[2] UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN DESA Population Division. (2015). Child mortality estimates: UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from: http://www.childmortality.org

[3] Ministry of Health and Population, New ERA and ICF International. (2012) Nepal: Demographic Health Survey 2011. Kathmandu: Government of Nepal.

Kenya | A phased approach to MPDSR implementation and county focus

In order to eliminate preventable maternal and perinatal mortality, several measures have been taken by the Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Health. They include:

  • scaling up training of Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care countrywide
  • eliminating user fees for maternity services through the Free Maternity Services Initiative led by The President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta
  • instituting maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response mechanisms

Kenya recently developed comprehensive national MPDSR guidelines. MPDSR, however, is not new to the Kenyan health system. In 2004, maternal deaths were declared a notifiable event which led to the implementation of maternal death reviews at health facilities. Maternal death reviews are the foundation to MPDSR while perinatal death reviews are less developed.

With the launch of the National MPDSR guidelines – 2016, Kenya is taking a phased approach in implementing the “P” in MPDSR. The implementation has recently begun in facilities with a low burden of maternal morbidity and mortality. It is noted that in health facilities with low maternal death occurrence, perinatal deaths remain quite high.

Murang’a County Referral Hospital is one such facility, with a low burden of maternal mortality but a persistently high perinatal mortality rate. At Murang’a County Referral Hospital, the (facility-level) MPDSR committee holds monthly meetings to discuss each case of perinatal mortality. The case files are usually accompanied by a review of the maternal file. The team reviews each case individually discussing the clinical care and health system factors that contributed to the death. The recommendations are well documented and followed up in the next meeting.

The Ministry of Health is working with the facility, sub-county and county teams to monitor the response to the recommendations made during perinatal death reviews.

COUNTY FOCUS: BUNGOMA COUNTY

The Maternal and Newborn Improvement (MANI) project supports six sub-counties in the roll out of MPDSR within and across 42 facilities in Bungoma County. The national maternal death review (MDR) and perinatal death review (PDR) tools are regularly used at these facilities. Narrative qualitative analyses describing the events of each maternal and perinatal case were introduced in September 2015 and are reviewed on a monthly basis.

The 42 facilities have received ongoing support through trainings, mentorship and supportive-supervisory visits to identify maternal and perinatal deaths, conduct reviews and analyse probable causes of death.

The MPDSR committees in six sub-counties meet quarterly to discuss feasible and immediate interventions that are within the capacity of the sub-county or facility levels to apply remedial solutions to each cause of death.

“…The MPDSR reviews have improved our teamwork, both amongst ourselves and even interdepartmental collaboration. Everyone involved in the care of mothers and newborns are involved in the MPDSR committee deliberation…” (Webuye staff about MPDSR meetings)

From September to December 2015 and April to June 2016, there were reported increases in the number of facilities with functional MPDSR committees from 20 to 42. From the committees that met, 33 facilities made necessary changes to service provision and/or management practices based on MPDR findings between April and June 2016; an increase from two facilities between September and December 2015.

While the percentage of maternal deaths that were reviewed and uploaded to the District Health Information System (DHIS) stayed constant at 100% from September 2015 to June 2016, perinatal deaths reviewed and uploaded to the DHIS increased from 54% to 67%, over the respective quarterly periods.

SUB-FOCUS: WEBUYE HOSPITAL

Webuye hospital has the second highest number of maternal and perinatal deaths in Bungoma County. With the roll out of the new 2015 Kenya National Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response Guidelines, there has been substantial progress to review perinatal causes of death to inform the quality of care.

The facility-MPDSR committee at Webuye hospital was established in October 2015 with the support of the MANI project and Bungoma County Health Management Team (CHMT). Prior to this, maternal and perinatal deaths were seldom reviewed, collaboration between maternal and newborn health departments was particularly low and record keeping was poor. As such, perinatal deaths were infrequently accounted for and the true causes of death rarely known.

The MPDSR committee at Webuye holds monthly review meetings. During the initial stages of these meetings, discrepancies were identified between the Ministry of Health PDR forms and the DHIS, preventing PDR data from being uploaded to the DHIS system. As a result, the Webuye team supported the standardisation of the PDR tools in January 2016. The PDR form has since been updated and pretested. The review and upload of PDR findings have increased since the new PDR tool was introduced. For each quarterly period from September 2015 to June 2016, there were marked increases from 44% to 100%, respectively.

Please visit here to read the country update for Kenya from March 2016.

Acknowledgements: The national update was prepared and reviewed Dr Wangui Muthigani, Program Manager- Maternal and Newborn Health at Ministry of Health in Kenya. The update for Bungoma county was developed based on feedback from Mr Peter Ken Kaimenyi, Maternal and Newborn Health Technical Advisor at MANI Project funded by UK Aid; two MANI Project abstracts accepted for presentation at the Kenya Midwives Annual Scientific Conference 2016; and the MANI Project power-point presentation for the Kenya Midwives Annual Scientific Conference 2016.

Bangladesh | the roll out of MPDSR

Maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response in Bangladesh was initiated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOH&FW) to monitor the overall improvement of maternal and neonatal health. Since its inception, the MoH&FW has been implementing MPDSR in 17 districts across Bangladesh following the pilot programme in Thakurgaon district in 2010. The approval of the national MPDSR guideline has paved the way to scale up MPDSR. From July to September 2016, a number of initiatives have taken place to further MPDSR implementation across the country.

RECENT ACTIVITIES

  • The national guidelines for MPDSR have been approved by the MOH&FW. Printing is underway and the dissemination workshop will take place in October 2016.
  • Plans to scale up MPDSR countrywide by 2021 have been drafted in the results framework of the Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program 2011-2016
  • The MPDSR Training of Trainers manual is under development and will be implemented to train sub-national level facilitators who in-turn will train healthcare providers from multiple disciplines at the district and upazila levels. The upazila team will then train the field-level health care providers on death notification, verbal autopsy (VA), social autopsy and facility death review. Participants will also be trained in data collection and analysis
  • A booklet on MDPSR for health and family planning workers in the field is also being developed in the local Bengali language. A draft will be complete by September 2016. The booklet is expected to be distributed to field-level health workers (health assistants, family welfare assistants, health inspectors, assistant health inspectors, family planning inspectors and sanitary inspectors) by November 2016
  • Simplified tools of MPDSR to help facilitate death notification, VA and facility death reviews, to name a few, are being prepared for dissemination to all 17 districts. Selected variables of VA have been incorporated in the District Health Information System-2 (DHIS-2)
  • A national-level meeting – led by the Director, Primary Health Care and Line Director of Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health of the Directorate General of Health Services – was planned in September 2016 to share experiences in maternal and perinatal death review across 14 districts
  • The national MPDSR guidelines will be shared at six divisional workshops once finalised (expected date: December 2016).
  • The UNICEF South Asian Regional Office has organised a South-to-South exchange visit for the MOH&FW Obstetric and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh to travel to China in November 2016 to share experiences about auditing maternal near misses

To learn more about Bangladesh’s implementation of MPDSR or components of it, please read the country update from July 2016.

Browse this case study to read about how social autopsy is used as an intervention tool to prevent maternal and neonatal deaths in communities in Bangladesh. The WHO has also published a case study about social autopsy in Bangladesh.

Acknowledgements: This country update was prepared and reviewed by Dr Riad Mahmud, Health Specialist (Maternal and Neonatal Health), Health Section, UNICEF Bangladesh and Dr Animesh Biswas, National Consultant (MPDSR), Health Section, UNICEF, Bangladesh.

Malawi | Pioneering MDSR in new districts

In Malawi, the Reproductive Health Directorate, National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Death (NCCEMD) and UNFPA are taking a lead in the establishment of MDSR in three new districts (Mzimba, Nkhata Bay and Rumphi) in the northern zone. Over the last few years, MamaYe-E4A has worked in the central and southern regions to introduce components of MDSR into several districts, and this expertise is now being called upon in the expansion of the system to the new districts.

With support from MamaYe-E4A in Balaka, district stakeholders have established MDSRs where there had not been any maternal deaths investigated for a substantial period of time. MamaYe-E4A worked with district authorities to use Health Management Information System and MDSR data to compile a district data dashboard: a user-friendly visual display of graphs in an Excel spreadsheet allowing decision-makers to easily use data to inform their decisions. Based on the analysis of these data, annual MDSR reports were developed, and submitted by the Maternal Health Coordinator to the Director of Health for Balaka to the District Council. The reports highlighted issues with lack of blood and equipment, and the information prompted the District Commissioner for Health to work in collaboration with representatives of civil society and representatives of the community to start fundraising for resources for the health sector.

This type of support is now being extended through MamaYe-E4A to selected districts in the northern region (Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and Mzimba) through funding through the Gates Foundation, in collaboration with the RHD, NCCEMD and UNFPA through the process of establishing the MDSR systems. Through a series of intensive meetings in June, representatives of MamaYe-E4A have supported these organisations to take the lead on MDSR through:

  1. Developing an MDSR monitoring tool for national level monitoring of the districts’ work on MDSR
  2. Adapting a maternal death audit form to be used by the districts themselves to monitor their own progress
  3. Putting together a 2016 workplan, including a commitment to support districts to produce their own quarterly reports according to the guidelines in order for district level decision-makers to be able to take action without having to wait for feedback from the national level monitoring. The plan also includes a proposed meeting between the NCCEMD committee and the National Minister for Health in July to share the progress report on the status for MDSR in the country
  4. Developing terms of reference for MamaYe-E4A’ssupport of MDSR-focused supportive supervision visits in the three districts.

In addition, MamaYe-E4A has been asked by the CCEMD to finalise the MDSR reports from 2014 and 2015, where these reports have experienced delays related to missing or un-submitted data.

In the last quarter, priorities in the new districts include establishing quarterly supervision of the community-MDSR (cMDSR) committees by district teams and training new cMDSR committees in verbal autopsy. Where there are periods of an absence of maternal deaths at this level, the momentum of the cMDSR committees is being maintained through a broader involvement in the MamaYe campaign. Committee members are engaging in work as MamaYe activists and also as activists mobilising their communities to give blood during the National Blood Transfusion Services’ blood donation drives to help prevent maternal deaths from haemorrhage.

District health authorities in the northern districts have also been supported to replicate the district data dashboard model used in Balaka. Based on evidence arising from the dashboards and MDSR data, e evidence-based advocacy materials have been developed, which call upon different groups to act in support of improving the lives of mothers and babies. For example, in Nkhata Bay, the district data dashboard has revealed that 22 women died from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes between 2013 and 2015, and posters and leaflets were developed to call on healthcare workers, district leaders and traditional authorities to address this issue.

Finally, Malawi is also in the process of establishing nationwide best practice guides. The training of health workers in MDSR has so far been based on the national guidelines, but the Ministry of Health is in the process of standardising the training through establishing a training manual. A database is also being established to list all the health workers already trained in MDSR so that they can be called upon to help scale up the system.

Dashboard1

Illustration of dashboard data from a district in Malawi

To view the posters and leaflets developed in Nkhata Bay to call for stakeholder action, please click here and read more about how this evidence on maternal health is used to drive accountability from this link.

Acknowledgements: This country update was developed based on feedback from Project Manager for MamaYe-E4A, Lumbani Banda, and Evidence Advisor for MamaYe-E4A, Hajj Daitoni, as well as updates from the programme reports.

Sierra Leone | Investing in MDSR

In Sierra Leone, significant investments have been made to move MDSR-related work forward over the last quarter. The National MDSR Committee held a meeting in June 2016, chaired by the Director of Reproductive and Child Health, with representatives from UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO as well as a representative of other health NGOs including Options, to assess progress and propose strategies for the next quarter. The meeting highlighted to following achievements and activities:

  • MDR committees at district level which had operated before the Ebola outbreak have been restructured and adapted to MDSR committees and inaugural meetings have been completed in all districts except Western Area.
  • In some districts, the process of actively reviewing deaths has begun.
  • Social media platforms are being used to support the multi-professional communication needed to sustain and grow the MDSR system through WhatsApp groups for District Medical Officers, Midwife Investigators, M&E Officers, Disease Surveillance Officers and other stakeholders. The World Health Organization has supported the development of an MDSR database using EpiData and training material including presentations on MDSR to support collection, inputting and analysis have been developed.
  • UNFPA is supporting a pilot regional blood collection campaign in response to findings from reviews of maternal deaths from haemorrhage between June and July 2016, as well as providing desktop computers to all districts for MDSR activities and supporting educational discussion programmes on maternal and child health on radio and television.

The meeting provided a good opportunity to plan further consultative meetings, for example, with Paramount chiefs in June and religious and women’s groups at later dates, to ensure wide stakeholder buy-in to the system and maximum impact for MDSR data in the future.

Acknowledgements: This country update was informed and approved by Bockarie Sesay, M&E Advisor for Options-PMEL, in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Nigeria | Ensuring the sustainability of MPDSR

With the support of the MamaYe-E4A programme over the last five years, Nigeria has worked to embed the MDSR process at state level in the country –and is the only setting that we knew of with a sub-national level maternal death review (MDR) scorecard at the time of dissemination in October 2015.

In the last few quarters in Ondo State, two MDR scorecards have been developed by the Evidence Sub-Committee of Ondo State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn, Health supported by E4A-MamaYe. These scorecards were based on the MDR data from all secondary-level facilities and two Mother and Child Hospitals in the state and aim to challenge the previous lack of reporting and review of maternal deaths. The scorecards were disseminated at a stakeholder meeting in Ondo and one of the key findings (that sepsis had overtaken haemorrhage to become the highest cause of maternal death) sparked lively debate.

The attendees explored the issues from both the woman’s and the facility’s point of view, and suggested strategies on both fronts for example, educating women on personal hygiene during antenatal care whilst also encouraging prompt referral of cases of premature rupture of the membranes at facilities.

One of the key issues discussed was while Ondo State Mother and Child Hospital provides most maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services for free, the most effective antibiotics, cephalosporins, are not exempted from costs. This means that staff may be forced to prescribe women cheaper antibiotics because they cannot afford cephalosporins. This was also leaving women open to the risk of being sold fake drugs by pharmacies, which would be ineffective against sepsis. The Ondo meeting attendees discussed strategies to counter this issue, for example, advocating at state level to get cephalosporins included in the free MNCH services, and using TruScan, a device which can detect fake drugs, to ensure women are being given genuine drugs.

While MamaYe-E4A’s presence in Ondo State ended in March 2016, key components of the programme are being integrated into the DfID-funded MNCH2 programme in Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Yobe and Kaduna States including MDR scorecards and advocacy. In addition, under a new contract from the Gates Foundation, MamaYe-E4A is working to replicate this success in other States, including setting up similar systems in Lagos State.

Recent successes in Bauchi State include the review of MDR reports from 2015 by the Bauchi State MDSR Steering Committee, which enabled them and the Bauchi State Accountability Mechanism for MNCH to convene a stakeholder meeting to discuss and identify causes of maternal death and create action plans. At this meeting it was revealed that the highest cause of maternal death was anaemia, and possible factors causing this were identified to include the high prevalence of worm infestation and poor nutrition among women, as well as supply-side issues such as inadequate access to health services and lack of blood supplies. Discussions then focused on how to tackle these issues: how to ensure women are de-wormed regularly, provide nutrition education on diet using local foods, and how to make sure facilities have functional blood banks.

In Lagos State, the recent inauguration of the maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response system included launching a committee at state-level and supporting the training of 135 health care providers across secondary facilities and one tertiary facility. Training was conducted in four batches and was the first MamaYe-E4A had conducted under the updated national MPDSR guidelines which aimed to integrate perinatal death review into MDR systems.

This national level focus on perinatal death is being consolidated. In June, the National MPDR Steering Committee meeting members discussed building on the experience of MamaYe-E4A and MNCH2 in training health care providers on the updated MPDSR guidelines. A workshop was planned for the end of June where MamaYe-E4A and MNCH2 could share their training methodology, slides and materials to support the national MPDR Steering Committee in developing a training manual on MPDSR.

This focus on perinatal death is also filtering down to state level: the last MDR scorecards from Ondo State (January to March 2016) highlighted perinatal death review data in line with the national shift towards a commitment to perinatal survival.

To view the MDR scorecard for Ondo State (January to March 2016), please click here.

Acknowledgements: This country update was compiled from feedback from Dr Tunde Segun, Country Director for E4A-MamaYe Nigeria, and content from E4A quarterly reports.

Bangladesh | Rolling out MPDSR across the country

Following a successful pilot in Thakurgaon district in 2010 by UNICEF1,2,3, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH & FW) of Bangladesh has taken the lead and made a commitment to gradually scale up maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response (MPDSR) across the entire country by 2021.

The national guideline for MPDSR has been approved and the Quality Improvement Secretariat of the Health Economics Unit at the MOH & FW is working with key stakeholders including Directorate General of Health Services, Directorate General of Family Planning, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, The Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh and other partners to plan for the roll out in a phase wise manner.

To date, MPDR/ MPDSR is being implemented in 17 out of Bangladesh’s 64 districts with support from UNICEF in 13 districts and, Save the Children in four districts, with implementation due to take place in   two more districts supported by UNFPA in 2016. A series of planning meetings are being conducted by the MoH & FW with the experts to finalise the roll out plan, determining training modalities, review processes, etc. UNICEF, Bangladesh has been providing technical and implementation support to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for rolling out MPDSR in collaboration with UNFPA and WHO.

Recent activities include:

  • A six-member team comprising representatives from the MOH & FW, professional societies, UNICEF and WHO attended the regional MPDSR Meeting organised by the WHO’s South East Asia Regional Office in February 2016, where progress on MPDSR in Bangladesh to date and plans for the country wide phase wide scale up by 2020.
  • National MPDSR tools (death notification, community verbal autopsies, facility death reviews) have been simplified by MOH & FW. Key variables incorporated in District Health Information System software of Management Information System of Directorate General of Family Planning which will enable real time data tracking
  • MPDSR national guideline sharing workshop was organized by the Health Economics Unit, MOH & FW in Chittagong division in May 2016 with support from UNICEF. Participants included health and family planning managers from division, district and upazila level, health officers of the City Corporation, obstetricians and neonatologists from the teaching hospitals and other related stakeholders. News of the workshop can be seen by clicking here.
  • A case study on social autopsy titled ‘Social autopsy triggered community responses for averting maternal and neonatal death in Bangladesh’ was published in WHO global website in April which was prepared jointly by UNICEF Bangladesh, MOH&FW and the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research2. Click here to read this.

Upcoming events: July – September 2016

  • A dissemination workshop on the newly developed national guideline on MPDSR will be organized by the Quality Improvement Secretariat, HEU, MOH&FW with support from UNICEF
  • An experience sharing meeting on MPDSR with 17 districts will be organised by Director General of Health Services, MOH&FW with support from UNICEF.
  • A dissemination workshop of the newly developed national guideline on MPDSR will soon be held by the Quality Improvement Secretariat of the ministry. Seven divisional sharing and orientation workshops are in the upcoming plans of the ministry.

Acknowledgements: This update was prepared by Dr Riad Mahmud, Health Specialist (MNH), UNICEF, Bangladesh, and reviewed by Dr. Md. Aminul Hasan, Deputy Director, Health Economics Unit, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; Dr. Lianne Kuppens, Chief Health section, UNICEF Bangladesh; Dr. Abu Sadat Md. Sayem, Health Officer, UNICEF; Dr. Shayma Khorshed, Consultant, Health Economics Unit, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Dr Animesh Biswas, Senior Scientist, Reproductive and Child Health Unit of CIPRB, Bangladesh.

References

  1. Biswas A.; Rahman F.; Halim A.; Eriksson C;  Dalal K. (2014). Maternal and Neonatal Death Review (MNDR): a useful approach to identifying appropriate and effective maternal and neonatal health initiatives in Bangladesh. Health, 6: 1669-1679
  2. Mahmud R.; Sohel HA.; Sharif M.; Kuppens L.; Rakhimdjanov S.; Sayem ASM.; Khan M.; & Biswas A. (2016). Social autopsy triggers community response for averting maternal and neonatal death in Bangladesh: Experience from ‘Maternal and Perinatal Death Review in 10 Districts’. World Health Organization. p.1-5. Available here>
  3. Biswas A. (2016). Maternal and perinatal death review (MPDR): experiences in Bangladesh. World Health Organization. Cited on 15 June 2015. Available here>

Malaysia | Strengthening MDSR at national and regional level

The MDSR system in Malaysia is often referred to as a model upon which other countries can learn about how success can be achieved with limited resources. To support other countries in taking forward MDSRs, the Government and Ministry of Health of Malaysia are actively supporting implementation in Lao PDR, Vietnam and Nepal with regular visits conducted by Dr Ravichandran Jeganathan, the National Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Services at the Ministry of Health in Malaysia. Dr Jeganathan summarised the focus of his advocacy during the Lao PDR meeting as a call for ensuring adequate skilled birth attendance for each community at village level by ensuring that each village to have at least one midwife.

During these visits, local teams are guided in how to adapt and develop tools to conduct the investigation process, and have been trained how to conduct maternal death reviews. Specific attention is given to clarify the concept of a non-punitive approach and how the response mechanism can be implemented and achieved with ease, even with minimal resources. Dr Jeganathan is a keen advocate for including medical and nursing students on the training to ensure their exposure to the concept of MDSRs early on in their career. 

In Malaysia, the sixth edition of the Report on the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in Malaysia 2009 – 2011 that was in progress during the last newsletter is now available upon request.

In addition, a near miss registry is being finalised; parameters have been identified and tools drafted. This near miss approach will be piloted in one district hospital in September 2016 to ascertain its validity.

Acknowledgements:

This country update was informed by feedback from Dr Ravichandran Jeganathan, the National Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Services at the Ministry of Health in Malaysia.

For previous country updates of Malaysia and a case study written by Dr Jeganathan, follow the links or visit the MDSR Action Network website.

Ethiopia | Scaling up MDSR across the health system

Evidence for Action (E4A) has been supporting the Federal Ministry of Health to strengthen the maternal death surveillance and response (MDSR) system in Ethiopia over the last five years. In the last quarter, the MDSR system has seen significant scale up, with technical assistance at national level and in Oromia, Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s region to support the extension of coverage of MDSR across Ethiopia.

In Amhara, MDSR training at zonal and woreda level have been held in all zones. Four weeks ago, a round of training was conducted in the region aimed at strengthening hospital facilities to use MDSR, with evidence from the two most functional zonal MDSR systems used to demonstrate the potential impact.

Training on integrating MDSR into the health system has also been conducted in 11 zones in Oromia since the end of February 2015, with over 380 participants attending from previously untrained zones. Three training sessions have been held in the Maji, Mizan and Yirgalem centres in the region to support MDSR integration, attended by a total of 181 participants from five zones.

In addition, the MDSR engagement by stakeholders at all levels of the health system has increased. For example, earlier this year, a special meeting of East Harege Zone representatives together with CEOs and Medical Directors from all five referral hospitals in Dire Dawa and Harar was coordinated and hosted by Ato Ali, Head of East Harege Zone, to discuss the fact that many of the women who die at hospitals in Dire Dawa and Harar are from East Harege Zone. This cross-regional, cross-zonal collaboration established valuable channels for communication about improving the referral process, the early transfer of critical patients, prioritising maternity patients and orientating ambulance drivers on the needs of maternity patients.

Supportive materials have been developed to help promote MDSR, such as a manual for National Public Health Emergency Management / MDSR and a promotional video targeted at leaders and decision-makers has been produced to give an overview of the workings of the MDSR system in Ethiopia. The video encourages institutionalising a ‘no blame’ approach, and uses real life examples to outline the process and purpose of MDSR as well as the importance of engaging staff from all tiers of the health system.

Finally, as E4A Ethiopia DfID funding ended in March and an extended contract supported by the Gates Foundation was implemented from April, a technical symposium has been organised to take stock of lessons learned on MDSR so far and discuss future implications for strengthening the MDSR system to become nationally embedded in Ethiopia.

To read more about the MDSR work in Ethiopia, see the Ethiopia February 2016 newsletter, or look out for the upcoming June 2016 version, here.

Acknowledgements:

This country update was developed based on feedback from Dr Ruth Lawley, Technical Support Unit Coordinator for E4A in Ethiopia, as well as information from the E4A quarterly report and the February 2016 Ethiopian newsletter.

Tanzania | Rolling out MPDR to new regions

A maternal and perinatal death reviews (MPDR) system has been embedded in Mara Region in Tanzania with support from the Mama Ye-E4A programme. This programme worked with the Ministry of Health to establish accountability mechanisms at and council levels in line with the national MPDR guidelines which ensures timely reviews of the implementation progress. The evidence-based National MPDR Guidelines have been replaced by MPDSR guidelines.

Mara was chosen by the Ministry of Health to act as an initial roll-out region for the new MPDSR guidelines in Tanzania. A subsequent assessment suggests that health care providers and managers have the required skills to implement the national guidelines effectively across all levels of service delivery and administration. This brings optimism that for the first time in the national implementation of maternal and perinatal death audits, progress will be monitored and evaluated to inform subsequent responses in maternal and perinatal survival and well-being for transformative gains across the health sector and beyond.

In embedding a functioning action and response cycle through the MPDSR process, Mama Ye-E4A ensured that decision-makers have been supported to continue to deliver against their responsibilities and commitments such that a functioning action and response cycle is embedded and sustainable in Mara region. The last quarter saw the end of the Mama Ye-E4A programme in Tanzania, but the important progress and championing of the establishment and subsequent roll-out of MPDSR looks set to continue under the remit of the GIZ-supported Tanzania German Health Support Programme.

The MPDSR system has been rolled out by the Ministry of Health to two more regions of Kagera and Lindi. Already, training has been conducted for key personnel in all hospitals in the two regions, regional and council health management team members and to stakeholders’ staffs supporting the two regions in RMNCAH namely Jhpiego and GIZ respectively. MPDSRs are recognised as key accountability and quality of care improvement mechanisms and referred to in the National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2016-2020- an important health sector guiding document beyond RMNCAH to ensure they remain a priority in the years to come. They have also been incorporated in the final drafts of the One Plan II (National RMNCAH Strategy for 2016-2020).

At the national level, the WHO country office has released funds for rolling out MPDSR across all regions in the country using the same platform that was used to roll-out the Sharpened National Accelerated Plan for Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths. Thus, significant activities are expected countrywide with a focus to impact appropriate skills in MPDSR implementation across all regions.

This update was informed by feedback from Moke Magoma, former Evidence Advisor on Mama Ye-E4A Tanzania; a March 2016 policy study conducted by Dr Sarah Clark (University College London), Dr Stephanie Smith (University of New Mexico), and Dr Moritz Hunsmann (French National Centre for Scientific Research); country director reports; and Mama Ye-E4A quarterly reports.