Document Type: Commentary
UNICEF, Health Section, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The question of how to optimally design health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) for high quality care and survival requires context-specific evidence on which level of the health system is best positioned to deliver services. Given documented poor quality of care for surgical conditions in LMICs, evidence to support intentional health system design is urgently needed. Iverson and colleagues address this very important question. This commentary explores their findings with particular attention to how they apply to maternity care. Though surgical maternity care is a common healthcare need, maternal complications are often unpredictable and require immediate surgical attention in order to avert serious morbidity or mortality. A discussion of decentralization for maternity services must grapple with this tension and differentiate between facilities that can provide emergency surgical care and those that can not.