MEDIA RELEASE 11 March 2020
Maternal Health Indicators
The Maternal health indicator report, released by Statistics South, shows an increase in births delivered in a health facility from 83% in 1998 to 96% in 2016. The results also indicate that a skilled health provider assists in nearly all deliveries (97%). A nurse or midwife delivered 68% of births and 29% were attended by a doctor. A noted increase in the proportion of births delivered in health facilities increased marginally for rural women, particularly in Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga provinces. The majority of institutional deliveries took place at public sector health facilities.
The findings further show that the proportion of births delivered by caesarean section increased from 16% in 1998 to 24% in 2016. Caesarean section deliveries were highest amongst women aged 35-44 in 2016. Across provinces, the proportion of births delivered by caesarean section ranged from 17% in Limpopo to 29,4% in Western Cape in 2016. Across provinces, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces had the highest proportion of births by caesarean section in the country. By household wealth quantile, caesarean section delivery is highest amongst the richest and richer households.
The results on antenatal care (ANC) indicate that there has been a slight change since 1998 in the proportion of women attending four or more ANC visits (74% in 1998 to 76% in 2016). Additionally, the proportion of women who had ANC in the first trimester increased from 28% in 1998 to 47% in 2016. The median number of months pregnant at the first ANC visit decreased from 5 to 4 months. Over time, the proportion of young women aged 15-19 attending four or more antenatal care visits increased.
Overall there was an increase in the proportion of women attending four or more ANC visits in rural areas (71,3% in 1998 to 79,7% in 2016), while there was a decline in four or more visits by urban area women (77,5% in 1998 to 73,2% in 2016). Four or more ANC visits by household wealth indicate that middle, richer and richest households had high ANC visits.
The proportion of women with four or more visits is much lower amongst women with no education (69,3) in 1998 and women with primary education in 2016 (69,8%) in 2016. Women with secondary education and higher education had a higher proportion of four or more antenatal care visits for their most recent pregnancy.
Safe motherhood programme recommends that women and their newborns receive a postnatal health check within 2 days after delivery. Findings from SADHS 2016 shows that in South Africa, 84% of mothers and 86% of newborns had a postnatal check during the first 2 days after delivery. By province, Western Cape and Free State have the highest proportion of women who received a timely postnatal health check (91% each), while KwaZulu-Natal has the lowest percentage (80,1%). Women who delivered in a health facility were much more likely to receive a postnatal health check during the first 2 days after birth than those who delivered elsewhere.
The report used data from South Africa Demographic and Health Surveys 1998 and 2016 to assess changes in selected maternal health care indicators. The results from this study showed that there has been an increase in the use of maternal health care services during the antenatal period, at delivery and after birth between 1998 and 2016 in South Africa.
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