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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686


SMITH, Jason B. et al. Estimates of the maternal mortality ratio in two districts of the Brong-Ahafo region, Ghana. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2001, vol.79, n.5, pp.400-408. ISSN 0042-9686.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by the sisterhood method in two districts of the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana, and to determine the impact of different assumptions and analytical decisions on these estimates. METHODS: Indirect estimates of the MMR were calculated from data collected in 1995 by Family Health International (FHI) on 5202 women aged 15-49 years, using a household screen of randomly selected areas in the two districts. Other data from the nationally representative 1994 Ghana Infant, Child and Maternal Mortality Survey (ICMMS) and from the 1997 Kassena-Nankana District study were also used for comparison. FINDINGS: Based on the FHI data, the MMR was estimated to be 269 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births for both districts combined, a figure higher than ICMMS estimates. Biases during data collection may account for this difference, including the fact that biases underestimating mortality are more common than those overestimating it. Biases introduced during data analysis were also considered, but only the total fertility rate used to calculate the MMR seemed to affect the estimates significantly. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that the sisterhood method is still being refined and the extent and impact of biases have only recently received attention. Users of this method should be aware of limitations when interpreting results. We recommend using confidence limits around estimates, both to dispel false impressions of precision and to reduce overinterpretation of data.

Keywords : Maternal mortality; Data collection [methods]; Bias (Epidemiology); Ghana.

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