The provision misoprotsol, a drug that can be used to both induce labour and prevent haemorrhaging, is being expanded in various low income countries in a bid to improve women’s health.
US based non governmental organisation Venture Strategies Innovations (VSI) has been working with various countries under the programme.
Last month (July 2012), the Ministry of Public Health in Burundi committed to introducing misoprostol for use in managing complications of pregnancy and childbirth with VSI’s support. Integration of misoprostol into maternal health programs and policy in Burundi presents an opportunity to improve women’s health in a country that bears the world’s fifth highest rate of maternal mortality.
In the same month, the Ministry of Health of Rwanda expanded its current efforts of promoting the use of misoprostol for prevention of post labour haemorrhage (known a as postpartum haemorrhage) at the community level into two additional districts, again with VSI’s support. Twenty master trainers and 75 district trainers will be leading the districts of Nyabihu and Gisagara to train 1,000 Animatrices de Santé Maternelle (ASM), or community health workers, to give misoprostol at delivery in cases where a woman cannot make it to a health facility to deliver.
Prevention of postpartum haemorrhage is a top priority for the Ministry of Health in Rwanda where community-based healthcare is a critical component of the continuum of care. With misoprostol, ASMs will be empowered with another simple solution to prevent unnecessary maternal deaths in the community.
In June, the Ministry of Health of Angola launched a project introducing misoprostol to address maternal deaths due to complications of unsafe abortion and miscarriage. The three-month demonstration project, supported by VSI and the. Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability at UC Berkeley, will expand provider knowledge of misoprostol as an effective treatment method and improve women’s access to post abortion care and family planning.
From 9 to 13 July, VSI and co-sponsors the Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Tanzania and the East, Central and Southern African Association of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Societies, convened nearly 40 leading maternal health experts from 12 African countries in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for an inaugural summit where the use of misoprostol was discussed. The Regional Experts’ Summit focused on cross-country learning and capacity-building in support of policy and programs to accelerate the reduction of maternal mortality in Africa.