Maternal mortality in Zimbabwe: evidence, costs and implications

This issue paper published in 2013 by the United Nations in Zimbabwe provides an overview of the country’s situation with regard to maternal mortality, as well as highlighting the need for better tracking, monitoring and reporting of maternal deaths as a key strategy.

The paper shows that Zimbabwe has an unacceptably high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) which has worsened by 28% from 1990 to 2010. Recent data shows that the MMR now stands at 960 deaths per 100,000 live births according to the Demographic Health Survey 2010-11. According to WHO 2004 estimates, about 2,593 disability-adjusted life years per 100,000 females are lost per year in Zimbabwe due to maternal causes.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCW), implemented a national Maternal Death Notification System (complementing the national Health Management Information System) aimed at strengthening tracking, monitoring and reporting of maternal mortality in the country, but the system is reported to be inadequate. The system reports deaths at facilities but not those in the community and not attended to by professional health care staff. Zimbabwe can improve maternal survival through investing in proven and effective maternal health services and strengthening health monitoring systems. Amongst other strategies for improvement, strengthening civil registration vital statistics system is recommended as a way to do improve reporting, and the paper also calls for designing and using innovative data collection and analysis methods that allow for the real-time monitoring of maternal deaths.

United Nations. (2013). Maternal Mortality in Zimbabwe: Evidence, Costs and Implications United Nations in Zimbabwe. Harare: United Nations.