By: Landing Ceesay
The Gambia Bureau of Statistics Demographic and Health Survey 2020 has shown no decrease in maternal mortality since 2013.
“If you look at the difference between [the] 2006- 2013 survey and 2019-20 survey one cannot say [the] maternal mortality ratio has reduced. Statistically, there is no significant difference between the two surveys. Because the two confidence intervals overlap, for the 2013 survey is from 299 to 567 and in 2019-20 the confidence intervals is from 231 to 409,” Sanna Manjang, the principal statistician at the Bureau pointed out from the 2020 survey.
“We don’t want people to go out there and say maternal mortality has decreased since 2013 because the definitions are different. If you want to do a comparison you have to focus on Pregnancy-related mortality value in this period and 2013 DHS. That’s why on the report we say no trend data is available,” he said.
Manjang informed that during the 2013 survey, they used to call the Demographic and Health Survey [DHS] ‘maternal death’. But in 2o20, they referred to it as ‘pregnancy-related death’; adding that his office in 2020, used the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition which excludes deaths from accidents and violence; while in 2013 DHS, deaths from accidents and violence were included in the definition of maternal mortality.
The former lecturer at the University of the Gambia further stated that there are a lot of debates on social media about the maternal mortality rates in the country and some say it is going up and others say otherwise.
The principal statistician urged people to use ‘pregnancy-related mortality’ instead of ‘maternal mortality’ when talking about women who died at child birth using 2013 and 2020 surveys.
The Gambia Bureau of Statistics’ [GBOS] Demographic and Health Survey [DHS] stated that the estimated pregnancy-related mortality ratio for the 7 year period preceding the 2019-20 survey is 320 deaths per 100,000 live births. That is, for every 1,000 births in the Gambia, about three women die during pregnancy or within 2 months of the end of pregnancy from any cause including accidents or violence.
The survey further revealed that there appears to be a downward trend in the pregnancy-related mortality ratio since 2006-13. However, the confidence intervals surrounding the 2013 and 2019-20 surveys pregnancy-related mortality ratio estimates overlap, meaning that there is no significant difference in the pregnancy-related mortality ratio between the two surveys.
The Gambia Bureau of Statistics established under the Statistics Act of 2005 is a semi-autonomous statistics agency under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA). It is the body entrusted to provide official statistics and is responsible for the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of official statistical data. The Bureau is also responsible for monitoring and coordinating the National Statistical System and carrying out central functions required for all other statistical services.