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Maternal mortality during war time in Tigray, Ethiopia: A community-based study.

OBJECTIVE: This study seeks to examine the impact of war on maternal mortality following an exacerbation in the dynamics of inequality in maternal health caused by the continuing conflict.

DESIGN: Community-based cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia, between November 2020 and May 2022.

POPULATION: This study surveyed a total of 189 087 households from six of the seven zones of Tigray in 121 tabiyas from 31 districts selected. A multistage cluster sampling technique was used to select the districts and tabiyas.

METHODS: The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, reproductive-age deaths that occurred during the study period were screened. In the second phase, verbal autopsies were conducted at the screened households.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Maternal mortality ratio level and cause-specific mortality.

RESULTS: The results of the study showed that the maternal mortality ratio was 840 (95% CI 739-914) per 100 000 live births. Haemorrhage, 107 (42.8%), pregnancy-induced hypertension, 21 (8.4%), and accidents, 14 (5.6%), were the main causes of mortality. Additionally, 203 (81.2%) of the mothers died outside of a health facility.

CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown a higher maternal mortality ratio following the dynamics of the Tigray war, as compared with the pre-war level of 186/100 000. Furthermore, potentially many of the pregnancy-related deaths could have been prevented with access to preventive and emergency services. Given the destruction and looting of many facilities, the restoration and improvement of the Tigray health system must take precedence.

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