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Non-Clinical Medicine - Obstetrics - Public Health and Epidemiology - Women's Health

The Immediate Economic Impact of Maternal Deaths on Rural Chinese Households
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Author: Fang Ye et al.

by Fang Ye, Haijun Wang, Dale Huntington, Hong Zhou, Yan Li, Fengzhi You, Jinhua Li, Wenlong Cui, Meiling Yao, Yan Wang, the study team for Economic Impact of Maternal Deaths in China


To identify the immediate economic impact of maternal death on rural Chinese households.


Results are reported from a study that matched 195 households who had suffered a maternal death to 384 households that experienced a childbirth without maternal death in rural areas of three provinces in China, using quantitative questionnaire to compare differences of direct and indirect costs between two groups.


The direct costs of a maternal death were significantly higher than the costs of a childbirth without a maternal death (US$4,119 vs. $370, p<0.001). More than 40% of the direct costs were attributed to funeral expenses. Hospitalization and emergency care expenses were the largest proportion of non-funeral direct costs and were higher in households with maternal death than the comparison group (US$2,248 vs. $305, p<0.001). To cover most of the high direct costs, 44.1% of affected households utilized compensation from hospitals, and the rest affected households (55.9%) utilized borrowing money or taking loans as major source of money to offset direct costs. The median economic burden of the direct (and non-reimbursed) costs of a maternal death was quite high - 37.0% of the household’s annual income, which was approximately 4 times as high as the threshold for an expense being considered catastrophic.


The immediate direct costs of maternal deaths are extremely catastrophic for the rural Chinese households in three provinces studied.