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OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to identify facility-based incidence of severe obstetric complications through a newly established obstetric surveillance system in eastern Ethiopia. METHODS: Monthly registration of obstetric hemorrhage, eclampsia, uterine rupture, severe anemia and sepsis was introduced in 13 maternity units in eastern Ethiopia. At each hospital, a designated clinician reported details of women admitted during pregnancy, childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy from April 01, 2021 to March 31, 2022 developing any of these conditions. Detailed data on sociodemographic characteristics, obstetric complications and status at discharge were collected by trained research assistants. RESULTS: Among 38 782 maternities during the study period, 2043 (5.3%) women had any of the five conditions. Seventy women died, representing a case fatality rate of 3.4%. The three leading reasons for admission were obstetric hemorrhage (972; 47.6%), severe anemia (727; 35.6%), and eclampsia (438; 21.4%). The majority of the maternal deaths were from obstetric hemorrhage (27/70; 38.6%) followed by eclampsia (17/70; 24.3%). CONCLUSION: Obstetric hemorrhage, severe anemia and eclampsia were the leading causes of severe obstetric complications in eastern Ethiopia. Almost one in 29 women admitted with obstetric complications died. Audit of quality of care is indicated to design tailored interventions to improve maternal survival and obstetric complications.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Gynaecol Obstet

Publication Date



Ethiopia, audit, maternal mortality, severe maternal morbidity, surveillance