Original Research

An investigation of maternal mortality at a tertiary hospital of the Limpopo province of South Africa

Sam T. Ntuli, Mabina Mogale, Francis L.M. Hyera, Shan Naidoo
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 32, No 2 | a57 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v32i2.57 | © 2019 Sam T. Ntuli, Mabina Mogale, Francis L.M. Hyera, Shan Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 May 2019 | Published: 01 July 2017

About the author(s)

Sam T. Ntuli, Research Development Administration, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa
Mabina Mogale, Department of Public Health: Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Francis L.M. Hyera, Department of Public Health Medicine, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa
Shan Naidoo, Department of Community Health, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Objective: To understand the elements influencing the maternal deaths in the Limpopo province, South Africa.

Methods: A retrospective review of all maternal deaths which occurred at the Pietersburg Hospital, Limpopo province was done over a five-year period (January 2011 to December 2015). The hospital death register was used to collate a list of maternal deaths occurring during the study period. The medical records of maternal deaths were reviewed. The total deliveries and live births for each year were obtained from the delivery registers. The data collected included maternal age, parity, referring facility, date of admission, date and time of death, ward where death occurred, and cause of death.

Results: There were 14 685 live births and 232 maternal deaths between 2011 and 2015, resulting in an institutional Maternal Mortality Ratio (iMMR) of 1579/100 000 live births. The mean age of the patients was 29 years. Forty-three per cent of deaths occurred within 24 hours of admission, 35% died in ICU and 89% were referred from regional and district hospitals and community health centres. Of the referred patients, 83% were from district hospitals. Obstetric haemorrhage and pre-eclampsia, or eclampsia, were the main causes of death.

Conclusion: The iMMR at Pietersburg Hospital remains unacceptably high. Most of the maternal deaths are due to obstetric haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, medical and surgical disorder and non-pregnancy related infections.


maternal; obstetric haemorrhage; pre-eclampsia or eclampsia; South Africa


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