The United Nations 2015 Millennium Development Goals targeted a 75% reduction in maternal mortality. However, in spite of this goal, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births remains unacceptably high across Sub-Saharan Africa. Because many of these deaths could likely be averted with access to safe surgery, including cesarean delivery, Epiu et al. set out to assess the capacity to provide safe anaesthetic care for mothers in the main referral hospitals in East Africa.
The authors identified significant shortages of both the personnel and equipment needed to provide safe anaesthetic care for obstetric surgical cases across East Africa. There is a need to increase the number of physician anaesthetists, to improve the training of non-physician anaesthesia providers, and to develop management protocols for obstetric patients requiring anaesthesia. This will strengthen health systems and improve surgical outcomes in developing countries. More funding is required for training physician anaesthetists if developing countries are to reach the targeted specialist workforce density of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery of 20 surgical, anaesthetic, and obstetric physicians per 100,000 population by 2030.