Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Print version ISSN 0042-9686
RAMOS, Silvina and MATERNAL MORTALITY IN ARGENTINA STUDY GROUP et al. A comprehensive assessment of maternal deaths in Argentina: translating multicentre collaborative research into action. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2007, vol.85, n.8, pp. 615-622. ISSN 0042-9686. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0042-96862007000800014.
OBJECTIVE: To perform a comprehensive assessment of maternal mortality in Argentina, the ultimate purpose being to strengthen the surveillance system and reorient reproductive health policies to prevent maternal deaths. METHODS: Our multicentre population-based study combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies included a descriptive analysis of under-registration and distribution of causes of death, a case-control study to identify risk factors in health-care delivery and verbal autopsies to analyse social determinants associated with maternal deaths. FINDINGS: A total of 121 maternal deaths occurred during 2002. The most common causes were abortion complications (27.4%), haemorrhage (22.1%), infection/sepsis (9.5%), hypertensive disorders (8.4%) and other causes (32.6%). Under-registration was 9.5% for maternal deaths (n = 95) and 15.4% for late maternal deaths (n = 26). The probability of dying was 10 times greater in the absence of essential obstetric care, active emergency care and qualified staff, and doubled with every 10-year increase in age. Other contributing factors included delays in recognizing "alarm signals"; reluctance in seeking care owing to desire to hide an induced abortion; delays in receiving timely treatment due to misdiagnosis or lack of supplies; and delays in referral/transportation in rural areas. CONCLUSION: A combination of methodologies is required to improve research on and understanding of maternal mortality via the systematic collection of health surveillance data. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive intervention to address public health and human rights issues in maternal mortality, and our results contribute to the consensus-building necessary to improve the existing surveillance system and prevention strategies.