Challenges in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in Niger: An in-depth case study

Almamy Malick Kante, Lamou Ousseini Youssoufa, Aida Mounkaila, Yahaha Mahamadou, Assanatou Bamogo, Safia S. Jiwani, Elizabeth Hazel, Abdoulaye Maïga, Melinda Kay Munos, Shelley Walton, Yvonne Tam, Neff Walker, Nadia Akseer, Heather Jue Wong, Mohamed Moussa, Abdoua Elhadji Dagobi, Nasreen S. Jessani, Agbessi Amouzou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Recent modelled estimates suggest that Niger made progress in maternal mortality since 2000. However, neonatal mortality has not declined since 2012 and maternal mortality estimates were based on limited data. We researched the drivers of progress and challenges. Methods We reviewed two decades of health policies, analysed mortality trends from United Nations data and six national household surveys between 1998 and 2021 and assessed coverage and inequalities of maternal and newborn health indicators. Quality of care was evaluated from health facility surveys in 2015 and 2019 and emergency obstetric assessments in 2011 and 2017. We determined the impact of intervention coverage on maternal and neonatal lives saved between 2000 and 2020. We interviewed 31 key informants to understand the factors underpinning policy implementation. Results Empirical maternal mortality ratio declined from 709 to 520 per 100 000 live births during 2000-2011, while neonatal mortality rate declined from 46 to 23 per 1000 live births during 2000-2012 then increased to 43 in 2018. Inequalities in neonatal mortality were reduced across socioeconomic and demographic strata. Key maternal and newborn health indicators improved over 2000-2012, except for caesarean sections, although the overall levels were low. Interventions delivered during childbirth saved most maternal and newborn lives. Progress came from health centre expansion, emergency care and the 2006 fee exemptions policy. During the past decade, challenges included expansion of emergency care, continued high fertility, security issues, financing and health workforce. Social determinants saw minimal change. Conclusions Niger reduced maternal and neonatal mortality during 2000-2012, but progress has stalled. Further reductions require strategies targeting comprehensive care, referrals, quality of care, fertility reduction, social determinants and improved security nationwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere011732
JournalBMJ Global Health
StatePublished - May 6 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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