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Survey on maternal mortality in Swaziland using the sisterhood method


Dr Medard M. Lech, School of Public Health and Social Medicine, Postgraduate Centre of Medical Education, 61 Kleczewska Str., 01-826 Warsaw, Poland. E-mail:



Monitoring and evaluating maternal mortality in African countries is impossible without specific and reliable data and indicators. This study of maternal mortality using the ‘Sisterhood Method’ was undertaken in Swaziland. The crude data on ‘sisterhood mortality’ were obtained from the 1993–94 Multi-Purpose Household Survey carried out by the Central Statistics Office and Ministry of Health of Swaziland. A total fertility rate of 6.36, as given in the 1986 Swaziland census, was used in estimating these indicators. Prior to this study, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Swaziland (based only on health facility data) was considered to lie within the range of 107–125 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births. Use of the ‘Sisterhood Method’ allowed a more precise estimate of maternal mortality for the general population of Swaziland. The study revealed the estimated MMR to be 229 and the life-time risk of maternal death to be 1 in 69. These values were most probably stable throughout the 6- to 7-year period before the survey.

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