This paper discusses some of the background principles which, through wide experience of instituting reviews of maternal deaths or near-misses around the world, appear common to their successful introduction. A supportive culture at personal, institutional and national level underpinned by the fostering of professionalism and the development of an ethos of safety against a wider supportive environment is needed. Reviews undertaken at a local level are as beneficial as those at a regional or population level and should be encouraged as a routine part of the quality improvement agenda for each and every healthcare facility.
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