Project #951

Prevent Nigerian Mothers from Dying in Childbirth

by VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations
Nafissa and son, Abdoulahii, delivered with miso
Nafissa and son, Abdoulahii, delivered with miso

After working in Nigeria for several years, where women have a 1 in 23 lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes, we are elated to report that we have accomplished our goal of making life-saving tablets, misoprostol, available to traditional midwives and mothers who are most at risk of dying of excessive bleeding or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).  This summary will serve as our final project report.

VSI galvanized local leaders and organizations around the need for sustainable improvements in maternal health.  VSI collaborated with numerous partners in Nigeria to:

  • Provide programmatic, technical and financial support to local implementing partners to raise awareness on the role of misoprostol to curb maternal mortality;
  • Conduct community-level research to demonstrate that traditional birth attendants can safely administer misoprostol in the home, where many births take place;
  • Demonstrate the safety of distributing tablets directly to pregnant women by community drug keepers;
  • Provide technical assistance to multiple distributors for the registration of misoprostol for PPH;
  • Involve the private sector to get misoprostol into rural markets for treatment of PPH;
  • Create and distribute informational and educational materials in local languages on misoprostol;
  • Assist the development of misoprostol clinical guidelines for Nigerian physicians and nurses;
  • Coordinate over 50 community meetings to spread the news of this life-saving tablet;  
  • Train over 12,000 providers - pharmacists, physicians, nurses, midwives and traditional birth attendants - on the use and benefits of misoprostol; and
  • Facilitate the purchase and distribution of over 1,000,000 misoprostol tablets.

Our project also generated needed evidence to inform national policy.  In 2006, Nigeria became the first country in the world to approve and register misoprostol tablets for the prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage.  The inclusion of misoprostol in the country's official clinical guidelines was a fundamental step towards ensuring its use at the facility level to control excessive bleeding after childbirth.  Last month, Nigeria had another monumental first.  Guidelines allowing misoprostol to be used at the community level were approved -- marking the first country to allow misoprostol to be used at the community level.  This accomplishment grew out of our active involvement and research, specifically a successful operations research project conducted by VSI and partners at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and the Bixby Center at UC Berkeley.

The success of our Nigerian project would not have been possible without the kindness, generosity and commitment of our Global Giving donors.  Your dedication to making maternal health an equal right no matter where women live helped us keep fighting for the reduction of unnecessary maternal deaths.  The impact of having misoprostol available on the village-level is literally saving lives and the Nigerian people are gracious and enthusiast about misoprostol life-saving effects.  Many mothers over the years have shared their stories and fears of bleeding to-death.   Now we have a “tablet that saves the lives of our mothers, sisters and wives” as one village elder shared with us.  Another village elder wrote a song about misoprostol impact in the community.

We encourage you to stay involved in our efforts to make childbirth safe for mothers in developing countries.  We hope you consider supporting our other Global Giving projects that work to prevent mothers dying in childbirth in Tanzania, Ethiopia and, coming soon to Global Giving, Mozambique.  We also invite you to stay in touch by visiting our website at and joining our email list.

Thank you again for helping us create sustainable change in Nigeria, enabling the government and other local NGOs to carry on supporting women with misoprostol in their country.  We could not have done it with you!


Nigerian mother
Nigerian mother

Women who reside in rural areas in Africa are not privy to western conveniences like a health clinic, a doctor or nurse, or even electricity.  Many mothers deliver their babies at home with the help of a family member or midwife.  But the risk of complications, specifically hemorrhaging which is the leading cause of death, is high.  Nigerian women unfortunately have a 1 in 18 lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes.   Their deaths are unacceptable and preventable.

A solution exists that comes in the form of a simple, affordable and easy-to-use tablet called misoprostol.  When a mother takes three life-saving tablets immediately after the baby is born, it can effectively prevent excessive bleeding.  A preventative dose is amazingly low in Nigeria – $1.00.

For essentially pennies, a mother’s life can be saved.  Thousands of women's lives can be spared by making misoprostol available through local businesses in rural Nigeria and by training frontline providers like midwives, nurses, traditional birth attendants -even the mothers themselves - to use these tablets.

In the next nine days, VSI has an opportunity to increase our impact.  Global Giving is launching a generous matching campaign this Tuesday, October 12th which will run through the following Thursday, October 21st.  Every donation made to this project will be matched by Global Giving.  Make your dollar, which is the cost of this life-saving medicine, stretch by giving a gift through VSI to support our mission and help us reach the women most in need.

No matter where you live pregnancy and childbirth should be a cherished and joyous experience, not one of fear.  Thank you to our committed donors who share this belief and our dedication to making maternal health an equal right no matter where you live.

Men participate in community meeting
Men participate in community meeting

Maternal health programs and policies in Africa have often centered exclusively on women and girls, however today VSI and our partners are increasingly including men. The role of men in women’s health is not only valued but needed to help spread awareness and expand distribution of misoprostol tablets – the life saving tablets that prevent bleeding after home births.

Earlier this year at a community meeting in Zaria, Nigeria over 400 community members gathered to share and report on the successes of misoprostol in their villages. The attendance and participation of husbands and fathers, brothers and uncles and most importantly male community elders were welcomed and celebrated. After a moving reenactment of a death from bleeding after childbirth by a community drama group, one blind man shared a song he wrote with the audience. The song praised “miso,” a drug that prevents women from dying. He sang of gratitude to the implementing team and to VSI for providing the life-saving tablets. His song was inspiring and implored the men of the communities to continue to allow their wives and sisters to the use this life saving drug.

This is just one example of many testimonials heard from the men in Zaria. There is no question that the increased involvement of men in safe motherhood efforts is making a difference. Their voice not only empowers traditional birth attendants to give mothers this drug when they deliver at home but broadens awareness and deepens the community’s commitment to protecting women from life-threatening bleeding after childbirth.

We are thankful for the support of donors who share our commitment to preventing mothers from dying in childbirth.


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.


Traditional midwife and her twins
Traditional midwife and her twins

Women in our five project communities in Northern Nigeria continue to express enthusiasm about misoprostol and its role in ensuring safe childbirth.

A traditional midwife we trained in the village of Hayin Ojo recounted the story of her own experience taking misoprostol. She delivered her own twins alone on the dirt floor of her home when she began hemorrhaging badly. As she is one of several community members distributing misoprostol in the project communities, she had the life-saving tablets on hand. Thankfully, she was able to take the tablets in time to stop the bleeding and save her own life. This woman has become a vocal advocate for misoprostol for management of excessive bleeding, as have all of the traditional midwives in her village.

The women of Northern Nigeria bear one of the world’s great burdens of maternal death due to postpartum hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding after childbirth. In this primarily Muslim area, most women deliver in their homes and given the paucity of health services, without the benefit of a skilled health care provider. Our project in Kaduna State in collaboration with the Bixby Center at UC Berkeley and Ahmadu Bello University is providing women who will deliver at home misoprostol tablets to prevent life-threatening hemorrhage.

To date, over 1,200 women have taken misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. We are pleased to report that the community support and enthusiasm about misoprostol has translated into 99% of home births in the project communities protected with misoprostol tablets in October of 2009, up from 55% in January.

We are thankful for the support of donors committed to saving mothers’ lives in settings with the most need.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations

Location: Irvine, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​
VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations
Project Leader:
Allison Boiles
Communications Specialist
Anaheim, California United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 205 donors like you, a total of $33,480 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Find another project in Nigeria or in Health that needs your help.
Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.