VSI recently completed its comprehensive assessment of misoprostol availability in Tanzania. This simple, life-saving medicine holds the potential to save the lives of thousands of women, especially those living in rural and remote communities – if only the medicine is available to them. During this assessment, VSI identified the current challenges to ensuring everyday availability of misoprostol, with the goal of supporting opportunities to improve access to the medicine over time.
The VSI Availability Case Study, attached below, is a brief introduction to this assessment – the framework, methodology and program recommendations. To date, several important milestones have already been achieved in Tanzania, and ongoing government and partner activities are actively contributing to availability. In 2007, Tanzania became the second country in Africa to register misoprostol to address excessive bleeding after childbirth and in 2011, its approved use was expanded to include another leading killer of women, incomplete abortion and miscarriage. However, VSI’s findings indicate that despite some gains, misoprostol tablets are currently in short supply, suffer from low demand, and are underutilized. Our research shows that nationally only 6% of providers in Tanzania have been trained on the use of misoprostol. Thanks to contributions from advocates like you, there are communities with a higher proportion of providers trained, but because so few providers know about the life-saving use of misoprostol across the country, there is low demand for the medicine, and in turn it is not widely available in health facilities.
The case study indicates more work remains – especially as it relates to creating awareness amongst women and healthcare providers. The findings of this assessment will assist VSI and partners with practical solutions to improve women’s access to this essential medicine. The solutions span simple fixes like ensuring misoprostol is listed on pharmacy order forms that are used to stock facilities to more resource intensive efforts like expanding trainings to midwives and nurses. VSI is sharing these results with partners in the field to help galvanize collective action to improve women’s access to this life-saving medicine.
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