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Assessing geographical distribution and accessibility of emergency obstetric care in subSaharan Africa: a systematic review

Banke-Thomas, Adura ORCID: 0000-0002-4449-0131, Wright, Kikelomo and Collins, Lindsey (2018) Assessing geographical distribution and accessibility of emergency obstetric care in subSaharan Africa: a systematic review. Journal of Global Health, 9 (1). ISSN 2047-2986

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Identification Number: 10.7189/jogh.09.010414


Background In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), over 200000 women (66% of global figures) die annually due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these deaths are preventable, especially if women have access to timely emergency obstetric care (EmOC). With poor roads and difficult topography in the region, access can be impeded. Based on United Nations EmOC assessment guidelines, minimum acceptable levels for geographical distribution of EmOC facilities have been defined (EmOC Indicator 2). We aimed to critically assess studies published in the peer-review literature that assessed EmOC geographical distribution and accessibility in SSA. Methods Two reviewers systematically searched multiple databases for articles published between January 2009 and June 2018. Both screened and selected studies based on the set inclusion criteria. Following quality assessments, data on study characteristics, process of data collection and analysis and findings reported were extracted. Extracted data were synthesised and presented in tables and charts. Narrative synthesis was used to summarise reported findings. Results 15 studies met the inclusion criteria, with varying assessed quality: high (7 studies), medium (4 studies) and low (4 studies). 8 studies were conducted at a national level while 7 were sub-national. 8 studies focused on assessing Indicator 2, while the others assessed multiple EmOC indicators. Only about half of the studies presented details of analysis for assessing geographical distribution, provided a map and interpreted their findings. Similarly, half of the studies used geographic information systems (GIS) for analyses. Of these, GIS was used to map EmOC facilities or relate facility numbers to 500000 population (3), estimate straight-line distances between facilities and residences of women (2) and model travel scenarios (3). EmOC facilities in SSA are concentrated in capitals, central and urban areas and at least a third of women in the region cannot reach their nearest EmOC facility within the recommended two-hour time-frame. Conclusions There is a limited number of studies that have assessed EmOC geographical distribution in SSA. When available, completeness and quality of analysis are questionable. Comprehensive assessments need to maximise recent advancements in mobile and GIS open-source technology to provide more realistic representation of EmOC access for service planners and policy-makers.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Health Policy
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2019 09:48
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2024 00:00

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