AIDS-Related Complications Are Leading Cause of Death Among Pregnant Women in South Africa, Report Says
AIDS-related complications have become the leading cause of death among pregnant women in South Africa, according to a report released on Friday by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa's Sunday Times reports. According to the report, "Saving Mothers 1999-2001," there were 2,777 maternal deaths between 1999 and 2001, or 150 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Approximately 31% of maternal deaths were attributed to non-pregnancy-related infections, and AIDS-related infections accounted for 17% of maternal deaths. According to Professor Jack Moodley, lead author of the study, the proportion of AIDS-related maternal deaths could be greater because only 36.4% of women representing the nearly 3,000 cases were tested for HIV (Msomi, Sunday Times, 3/9). The health ministry commissioned the report four years ago over a "growing concern" about an increase in maternal deaths. The report included recommendations for emergency transportation for pregnant women in rural areas; making blood available in all hospitals where caesarean sections are performed; increasing staff and improving equipment in "under-resourced" institutions; and establishing more clinics that provide legal abortions to help reduce deaths from "back street" procedures, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 3/9). Tshabalala-Msimang said that the South African government will expand voluntary HIV testing and counseling services to more HIV-positive pregnant women (Sunday Times, 3/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.