Perinatal Loss in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Scoping Review


  • Alberta Baffour-Awuah University of Alberta
  • Solina Richter University of Alberta



community; experiences; family; perinatal loss and support; sub-Saharan Africa


Estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that perinatal loss is a threat in sub-Saharan Africa. It has been established that half of all stillbirths and neonatal deaths occur around the onset of labour to delivery. Approximately 75% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, giving the region the highest level of perinatal loss in the world. There are limited studies that have investigated the experiences of and support for women who experience perinatal loss. This article reports on a scoping review that aimed to explore and summarise the existing literature about the experiences of perinatal loss among couples in sub-Saharan Africa, and to identify the relevant support health professionals and the community give to improve the well-being of parents experiencing perinatal loss. Electronic databases were used to search comprehensively peer-reviewed articles and grey literature between 2005 and 2019. Two independent reviewers screened and analysed the selected articles through a data charting procedure. Eight articles met the inclusion criteria for the study. They were all qualitative studies: seven of them were peer-reviewed articles and one was a master’s thesis. The findings were categorised under two themes: (1) emotional experiences of perinatal loss among sub-Saharan African women; and (2) support systems available for these women. The literature review highlighted the limited research and lack of literature about the emotional experiences of bereaved couples in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, the literature review revealed that bereaved couples need more support to reduce psychological trauma. The study findings demonstrated the need for more research to enhance understanding of and improve the services provided to bereaved couples and their families.



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Author Biographies

Alberta Baffour-Awuah, University of Alberta

PhD candidate 

Faculty of Nursing

University of Alberta

Solina Richter, University of Alberta

Professor and Associate Dean, Global Health

Faculty of Nursing

University of Alberta



How to Cite

Baffour-Awuah, Alberta, and Solina Richter. 2020. “Perinatal Loss in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Scoping Review”. Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 22 (2):18 pages.



Received 2018-12-05
Accepted 2019-10-18
Published 2020-12-01