Bartlett, L., et al., The impact and cost of scaling up midwifery and obstetrics in 58 low- and middle-income countries. PLoS One, 2014. 9(6): p. e98550.
Background and Methods:
To guide achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, we used the Lives Saved Tool to provide a novel simulation of potential maternal, fetal, and newborn lives and costs saved by scaling up midwifery and obstetrics services, including family planning, in 58 low- and middle-income countries. Typical midwifery and obstetrics interventions were scaled to either 60% of the national population (modest coverage) or 99% (universal coverage).
Under even a modest scale-up, midwifery services including family planning reduce maternal, fetal, and neonatal deaths by 34%. Increasing midwifery alone or integrated with obstetrics is more cost-effective than scaling up obstetrics alone; when family planning was included, the midwifery model was almost twice as cost-effective as the obstetrics model, at $2,200 versus $4,200 per death averted. The most effective strategy was the most comprehensive: increasing midwives, obstetricians, and family planning could prevent 69% of total deaths under universal scale-up, yielding a cost per death prevented of just $2,100. Within this analysis, the interventions which midwifery and obstetrics are poised to deliver most effectively are different, with midwifery benefits delivered across the continuum of pre-pregnancy, prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum-postnatal care, and obstetrics benefits focused mostly on delivery. Including family planning within each scope of practice reduced the number of likely births, and thus deaths, and increased the cost-effectiveness of the entire package (e.g., a 52% reduction in deaths with midwifery and obstetrics increased to 69% when family planning was added; cost decreased from $4,000 to $2,100 per death averted).
Conclusions: This analysis suggests that scaling up midwifery and obstetrics could bring many countries closer to achieving mortality reductions. Midwives alone can achieve remarkable mortality reductions, particularly when they also perform family planning services - the greatest return on investment occurs with the scale-up of midwives and obstetricians together. © 2014 Bartlett et al.