3203.0: Monday, November 13, 2000 - 4:30 PM

Abstract #16346

Utilizing local resources to establish a baseline for maternal mortality: The PetÚn experience

Elizabeth M. Grandia, BA, Anthropology, UC Berkeley, 2428 Milvia Street #2, Berkeley, CA 94704, 510-649-9626, N/A and Meredith P. Fort, BA, Management Sciences for Health, 195 Cornell Street, Apartment #2, Roslindale, MA 02131, 617-323-2449, mfort@aya.yale.edu.

Guatemala has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Western hemisphere. One of the two main health objectives in the 1996 Peace Accords which ended Guatemala's civil war was a 50% reduction in maternal mortality within four years. The Ministry of Health has fallen short of this goal, especially in rural areas where maternal mortality is higher than the national average. Moreover, the Ministry of Health lacks adequate procedures to calculate accurately the maternal mortality rate. Only women who die under the observation of a trained medical professional are counted, which ignores the women most at risk - rural women who lack the resources, time, or physical strength to reach a government or private health center.

In this study on maternal mortality in Guatemala's recently-colonized northern frontier, the PetÚn, both confirmed and "suspicious" maternal deaths found in the municipal civil registers from 1995 to 1998 were recorded. This documentation showed a constant rate of maternal mortality (between 20-30 deaths in a region of 500,000 people) in PetÚn. Women with higher reproductive risk (younger than 18 and older than 35) constitute a disproportionate amount of those deaths.

National and international surveys like the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) are expensive, few and far between, and often ignore frontier regions as being statistically insignificant for national averages. We propose that the methodology used in this study, although less statistically accurate, is an effective and low-cost method for monitoring maternal mortality on a regional level, which is a priority issue for local health NGOs.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session the participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss the importance of maternal health and barriers that exist to estimating maternal mortality, by using the PetÚn, Guatemala as a case study.
  2. Describe an inexpensive method for estimating maternal mortality rates which depends on the use of local resources.
  3. Apply the methodology described in the presentation to similar contexts where maternal mortality rates do not exist.

    Keywords: Maternal Health,

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Macro International
    I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
    Relationship: Previously employed as a consultant.

    The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA