Culture and Birth Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Literature

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Introduction: Almost 830 women die daily in childbirth with 550 of those deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. This region has the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with 546 deaths per 100,000 live births. Research must focus on understanding cultural beliefs and practices to improve maternal health outcomes. The purpose of this review is to provide evidence of relevant cultural beliefs and the impact on birth outcomes for women in sub-Saharan Africa. Method: Using PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, the literature focused on 25 articles that defined, directly or indirectly, associations of cultural values, beliefs, and lifeways to pregnancy and birth from the perspective of women of childbearing age. Results: Three relevant categories emerged from the literature: birth outcomes, maternal care-seeking, and maternal culture care. Discussion: Women’s voices and an understanding of cultural constructs of care are required to encourage the use of biomedical health system along with the use of indigenous practices.

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