Maternal Health Commodities: Case Studies from Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda

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Last month, the Maternal Health Task Force was invited by the Secretariat to the UN Commission for Life Saving Commodities for Women and Children to complete a landscaping of maternal health commodities in 6 countries. The MHTF, in collaboration with Global Health Visions, prepared a working document, titled UN Commission on Life Saving Commodities for Women and Children: Country Case Studies, that takes a closer look at the status of 3 maternal health commodities in 6 countries where maternal mortality remains a persistent problem: Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The document provides critical insights into the various barriers to access to oxytocin, misoprostol, and magnesium sulfate. Post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) and Pre-Eclampsia/Eclampsia (PE/E) are two of the leading causes of maternal death. PPH can be treated, and often prevented, with uterotonic medicines—such as oxytocin and misoprostol. Similarly, magnesium sulfate is an effective treatment for managing PE/E.

Oxytocin, misoprostol, and magnesium sulfate are all now included on the WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicines—but significant gaps exist between international policies and actual access to medicine in communities, and health facilities around the world.

The document also highlights innovations and best practices for increasing access to essential commodities—exploring the use of mobile technologies to share information about stock outs, solar powered refrigerators, single-dose and disposable injectable medicines, task-shifting, and pooled procurement strategies as tools for expanding the availability of essential maternal health medicines for women in developing countries.

The report concludes that: “While findings differ across countries, one aspect is clear – significantly more research is needed to fully capture the state of maternal health commodities in these countries, and probably others. Building on this initial review, a well-planned series of consultations with in-country stakeholders is a critical next step. A comprehensive understanding of the status and accessibility of these commodities is a necessary component of ensuring access to high quality maternal health services for millions of women around the world.”

Access the full report here.