To culminate our project introducing misoprostol tablets to prevent bleeding in childbirth among women who deliver at home in Northern Nigeria, we convened hundreds of community members, government representatives and other advocates for safe motherhood in Zaria in February 2010.
Our collaborative project with Ahmadu Bello University and the UC Berkeley Bixby Center successfully demonstrated that distributing misoprostol tablets in these communities was safe and significantly increased protection against life-threatening bleeding after childbirth, the leading cause of maternal death in Nigeria. But perhaps more importantly, the communities are enthusiastic about the new drug, "miso."
Two mothers from the community of Hayin Ojo, Safiya and Hauwa, who took misoprostol in their most recent deliveries spoke in front of the crowd of over 400 people. With their babies on their backs, they expressed gratitude for having access to the tablets and noted how their fears of bleeding are now alleviated. So too did village chiefs and local religious leaders extend gratitude for "this tablet that saves the lives of our mothers, sisters and wives."
As we continue to work with local partners and the government to expand access to misoprostol tablets for life-threatening bleeding, we are grateful for the support of those who share in our goal of reducing the number of women who die unnecessarily while giving life in Nigeria.
We are pleased to report that our efforts to create access to misoprostol tablets to manage bleeding after childbirth have yielded a broad base of support in Ethiopia, including from the government and partners working towards safer motherhood for Ethiopian mothers. Following a gathering we organized in January 2010 where health care providers and program partners shared successful results and encouraging stories about the use of misoprostol by health workers who care for pregnant mothers, Ethiopia's Ministry of Health took the lead in scaling up training of community health workers and access to the simple tablets, especially to benefit the many women who labor at home.
In a clear demonstration of this support for misoprostol as a strategy for reducing bleeding-related maternal deaths, this month, June 2010, the Ethiopian drug authority took the important policy step of registering misoprostol, thereby enabling legal importation, marketing and distribution of the tablets throughout Ethiopia and paving the way to access for millions of women.
With the generous support of donors and committed maternal health advocates, we continue to collaborate with our local partners in Ethiopia to educate community health workers and make misoprostol tablets available to the women who need them the most.
We are pleased to report that our efforts to educate health care providers in Ethiopia have led to more than 7,000 people trained to use misoprostol tablets for prevention of excessive bleeding after childbirth, or postpartum hemorrhage. In a country where culture and geography contribute to 94% of women delivering at home, the transmission of knowledge on how to use misoprostol to manage postpartum hemorrhage may prove essential in saving the lives of laboring mothers for years to come.
One mother who received misoprostol from a provider we trained told us, “I am overwhelmed with satisfaction by the safe delivery I got taking misoprostol. I’ve had postpartum hemorrhage before, but not this time.”
With our local partners and team taking the lead, we continue to train the young women who are deployed to rural communities by the government to provide primary health care. These health workers previously faced the challenge of providing safe deliveries with minimal supplies and training but are now equipped with a simple to use tablet that clearly benefits the communities they serve. One such health worker recently reported proudly that she had conducted 61 deliveries safely using misoprostol.
Not only are we working diligently to educate health workers in rural villages, but with the obstetrics and gynecological society of Ethiopia we have trained nearly 4,000 students training to be midwives and nurses on misoprostol. By integrating training on misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage into their regular curriculum, we are contributing to a sustainable improvement in knowledge about a life-saving drug among the men and women who serve families across Ethiopia.
We appreciate the support of those who share our commitment to saving mothers' lives in Ethiopia.