A new low-cost simplified device to safely deliver babies when labour is prolonged is undergoing clinical trials, says World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Dr Margaret Chan.
In her address to the 65th World Health Organisation assembly in Geneva Switzerland on Monday [May 21,2012], Dr Chan said the new ‘Odon’ device has been developed by WHO to transfer lifesaving capacity to rural health posts, which almost never have the facilities and staff to perform a C-section.
“Obstructed labour is a major killer of young women and adolescent girls. The real reasons are these: poverty and health systems that are impoverished by lack of medicines, equipment, skilled staff and transportation. The Odon device is now undergoing clinical trials. If approved, the Odon device will be the first simple new tool for assisted delivery since forceps and vacuum extractor were introduced centuries ago,” Dr Chan said.
Dr Chan said the promotion of primary healthcare and universal coverage should not let a deteriorating economic outlook compromise the quality of clinical care.
Dr Chan said primary healthcare was not cheap, and it must not be a “B-team version of what people get when they pay for private care”.
“Evidence indicates that the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is entirely feasible, and this is now our operational goal,” she added.
In her speech, Dr Chan also praised Africa countries for their commitment to fighting malaria.
“I visited Namibia in April… [in that country] the minister of health is leading eight neighbouring African countries in a joint effort to eliminate malaria within the next few years, these countries are ambitious. They are determined. Their eyes are wide open to the challenge, but the chances of success are good,” she said.
Dr Chan said money for health development more than tripled in the 21 century – what she termed the ‘the golden age’ – and substantial results followed, with a particularly strong impact on deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and childhood illness.
Referring to current funding levels, she added: “The decade is over, and some observers will tell you that the golden age for health development has also come to an end. Bitter observers say what many suspect may be true. A financial crisis derailed the best chance ever to alleviate poverty and give this lopsided world greater fairness and balance.
“I strongly disagree. I believe the best days for health are ahead of us, not behind us. It is true that money is tight and the future of the world economy looks uncertain. Health officials, development partners, and WHO are watching money closely. Money is important, but many other factors drive progress in public health.”