Sexual and reproductive health

Global survey on maternal and perinatal health

A research project implemented by WHO in a global network of health facilities between 2004 and 2008

  • Participation from 373 health facilities from 24 countries in the Americas, African, South-East Asia and Western Pacific WHO Regions
  • Included nearly 300,000 observations
  • Focused on the relationship between mode of delivery and the maternal and perinatal outcome
  • Main and secondary analyses have been conducted using the rich study database

Main finding

Pregnant women await their turn to see a doctor in the Maternal Hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Alfredo Spur/The World Bank
An intrinsic risk of increased severe maternal outcomes with caesarean deliveries was shown

The main finding of this project was the independent association between caesarean sections and severe maternal outcomes. Overall, this risk was higher in African countries than in Asia or Latin America. Thus, the analyses concluded that caesarean sections should be performed when a clear benefit is anticipated, a benefit that might compensate the higher costs and additional risks in the context of the specific setting where the operation is taking place.

Methodological aspects and the project findings are available in several publications. In addition, the crude tabulations of the global database can be downloaded.

Main analyses

Methodological aspects and other analysis

Database tabulations


UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction Department of Reproductive Health and Research: (last revised: August 2010). World Health Organization.

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