AbstractDuring the course of 1997, deaths during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium were made notifiable events in South Africa in terms of the National Policy Health Act (number 116 of 1990) of South Africa. This was done in recognition of the need to reduce maternal mortality, which is considered a basic health indicator that reflects the adequacy of health care. The exact maternal death rate in South Africa was not known at the time, because of a lack of accurate record-keeping. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated that almost 600 000 women were dying worldwide annually as a result of pregnancy-related conditions, particularly in the developing world.
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