South Africa’s medical infrastructure is relatively well developed, but its maternal mortality rate remains high and numerous studies document poor maternal care. Shortages in nursing staff are a major factor in quality-of-care problems on maternity wards. A Population Council FRONTIERS study of antenatal care in rural clinics in Kwa-Zulu Natal showed that between one-third and one-half of providers interviewed had worked at their clinics for less than a year. In 2004, FRONTIERS followed up on the Kwa-Zulu Natal study to document factors affecting the tenure, motivations, and working conditions of maternal-health nursing staff in three South African provinces. The study covered nurses and advanced midwives. Data were collected through a questionnaire sent to all public hospitals providing maternal-care services, a survey on nurses’ motivation and decision-making, and interviews, as well as site visits to 15 hospitals and 27 clinics. The investigation revealed a variety of problems leading to chronic disempowerment and demotivation of nurses. As noted in this brief, strong management and fully equipped facilities could help redress staff turnover.
"South Africa: Improve facility management to increase nurse retention," FRONTIERS OR Summary no. 63. Washington, DC: Population Council, 2007.
Frontiers in Reproductive Health