Scientists have a powerful role in determining South African government health policy: Unpacking how and why different scientists may suggest very different policies

Appropriate public health policy, and the associated budgetary decisions, are extremely important to society, and rely on expert scientific input. Scientists who provide this input, typically medical researchers alongside statisticians specialising in medical data, are required to produce objective, transparent analysis that will aid the politicians who make these crucial policy decisions. In this article we give examples of how scientists who publish work in the area of public health can overlook critical aspects of data analysis and arrive at inappropriate conclusions not supported by the data. We believe that all data used in such studies should be freely available, and suggest principles that scientists and journals should adhere to in order to ensure that the statistical models used on the data and the conclusions reached on the basis of the statistical analysis have been subjected to intensive interrogation by as large a pool of scientists as possible.

Audit of antenatal and delivery care at a midwife obstetric unit, South Africa

Reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to <70 per 100 000 live births and the neonatal mortality ratio (NMR) to <12 per 1 000 live births are the aims of the United Nations (UN)’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for maternal care. In order to attain these objectives, universal and high-quality antenatal care (ANC) and care during delivery (childbirth or intrapartum) in health facilities are crucial. Maternal morbidity and mortality rates in healthcare facilities vary greatly according to reports from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), indicating varying levels of care quality. Maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality are linked to inadequate ANC and intrapartum care. The biggest problem is ensuring consistent quality of care during ANC and delivery in South Africa (SA), where maternal mortality is high, and the health system is regarded as insufficient. In comparison to higher level healthcare settings, a study from five sub-Saharan African (SSA) nations reveals that the general quality of basic maternal care is suboptimal in primary healthcare (PHC) institutions.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy: A scientometric analysis of the 100 most-cited articles

Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a severe behavioural problem that raises significant public health concerns. A notable amount of research has been published, and its evolution based on citations, knowledge structure, and impact on the scientific community is not entirely understood. This study identifies and describes the top most frequently cited 100 articles on maternal smoking during pregnancy. The top 100 articles were identified using the Scopus data database. Metadata were collected and analysed using bibliometrix and R package. The 100 most-cited articles (83 articles and 17 reviews) were published between 1971 and 2018. Those articles were cited 28 550 times, with a mean number of citations of 285.5 and a range of 189 - 812. A statistically significant positive correlation was observed in the number of the articles and citations score per year (r=0.635, p<0.001). Fifty-eight of the articles originated from the USA, with 52 in single-country publications and 6 in multiple-country publications. These articles were published in 58 journals, and the American Journal of Epidemiology published the most significant number of articles (n=8). Analysis through source clustering using Bradford’s Law indicated that the top 7 journals are in zone 1 (core journal) for the fields. The most prolific author is Gilliland, with h_index 5. The highest frequency keywords are pregnancy, smoking, maternal smoking, asthma, prenatal, environmental tobacco smoke, infant, abruptio placentae, birthweight and child. Our study offers researchers a thorough examination of the traits of the 100 articles on maternal smoking during pregnancy that have received the most citations, and a way to pinpoint any remaining research gaps.


Health Professions Council of South Africa


3 Clinical 


Attempts allowed: 2

70% pass rate

Enquire Now

Southern African Journal of Public Health - October 2023 - Vol 6 no 3