BioScience Trends. 2010;4(6):318-324.

Availability and use of emergency obstetric care services in public hospitals in Laos PDR: A systems analysis.

Douangphachanh X, Ali M, Outavong P, Alongkon P, Sing M, Chushi K


The maternal mortality ratio in Laos in 2005 was 660 per 100,000 lives birth which was the third highest in Asia-Pacific Region. The objective was to determine the availability and use of emergency obstetric care (EmOC) in provincial and district hospitals in Borikhamxay, Khammouane, and Savannakhet provinces using UN guidelines. A hospital-based cross sectional survey was conducted from January to March 2008. All district (30) and provincial hospitals (3) from three provinces were included. Analysis was based on hospital records reflecting 12 months of facility data. Data indicates that only 14 hospitals (42.4%) were providing EmOC services, i.e., 9 basic, 5 comprehensive services. The proportion of births in EmOC facilities was only 11.2%, the met need was a very low 14.5%, and the cesarean section rate was only 0.9%. The case fatality rate in Borikhanxay province was 2.8%; in Khammouane and in Savannakhet provinces it was less than 1%. Record keeping at hospitals was poor. Signal functions provided in the last three months showed only 48.5% of the facilities performed assisted vaginal delivery. This is the first study in Lao PDR to assess EmOC services. Almost all the indicators were below the UN recommendations. Health planners must take evidence-based decisions to rectify and improve the situation in the hospitals regarding EmOC services. These data can therefore help government to assign and allocate budgets appropriately, and help policymakers and planners to identify systemic bottlenecks and prioritize solutions and will help in improving maternal health.

KEYWORDS: Emergency obstetric care, maternal health, process indicators, public hospitals, Lao PDR

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