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Resilience to maintain quality of intrapartum care in war torn Yemen: a retrospective pre-post study evaluating effects of changing birth volumes in a congested frontline hospital

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Background: Fragile and conflict-affected states contribute with more than 60% of the global burden of maternal mortality. There is an alarming need for research exploring maternal health service access and quality and adaptive responses during armed conflict. Taiz Houbane Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Yemen was established during the war as such adaptive response. However, as number of births vastly exceeded the facility’s pre-dimensioned capacity, a policy was implemented to restrict admissions. We here assess the restriction’s effects on the quality of intrapartum care and birth outcomes. Methods: A retrospective before and after study was conducted of all women giving birth in a high-volume month pre-restriction (August 2017; n = 1034) and a low-volume month post-restriction (November 2017; n = 436). Birth outcomes were assessed for all births (mode of birth, stillbirths, intra-facility neonatal deaths, and Apgar score < 7). Quality of intrapartum care was assessed by a criterion-based audit of all caesarean sections (n = 108 and n = 82) and of 250 randomly selected vaginal births in each month. Results: Background characteristics of women were comparable between the months. Rates of labour inductions and caesarean sections increased significantly in the low-volume month (14% vs. 22% (relative risk (RR) 0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45-0.87) and 11% vs. 19% (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.42-0.71)). No other care or birth outcome indicators were significantly different. Structural and human resources remained constant throughout, despite differences in patient volume. Conclusions: Assumptions regarding quality of care in periods of high demand may be misguiding - resilience to maintain quality of care was strong. We recommend health actors to closely monitor changes in quality of care when implementing resource changes; to enable safe care during birth for as many women as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • Adaptive response, Armed conflict, Caesarean section, Childbirth, Fragile and conflict-affected states, Humanitarian response, Quality of care, Yemen

ID: 61693572