March 19, 2012
Ghana Health Service calls for scale-up of misoprostol distribution to reach women who deliver at home
(ACCRA, Ghana) On Monday, March 19, 2012 at a national dissemination meeting at the Miklin Hotel in Accra, Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Venture Strategies Innovations (VSI) shared the results of a collaborative pilot project that protected Ghanaian mothers from life-threatening bleeding after childbirth. The project partners presented the results of this safe motherhood project to over 60 representatives of national, regional and district-level GHS leadership as well as other key maternal health stakeholders in Ghana.
As a part of the country’s broader efforts to reduce maternal mortality in line with the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal 5, with VSI's support GHS initiated this project to reach women with the essential medicine misoprostol to prevent a leading cause of maternal death, postpartum hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding after childbirth. With a large proportion (42%) of births in Ghana taking place at home, and the rates even higher in rural areas, misoprostol tablets offer a safe, effective and easy-to-use solution for Ghanaian mothers who cannot reach a facility to deliver.
From April to January 2011, the project was conducted in four districts: Birim South, Sene, Upper Manya Krobo and Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA). The project emphasized education on the importance of delivering at a facility and prevention of postpartum hemorrhage as well as distribution of misoprostol tablets at antenatal care (ANC) visits by health care providers so mothers would be protected from excessive bleeding after childbirth even if they delivered at home. Community health volunteers and traditional birth attendants raised awareness in the project communities about safe delivery and the availability of misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
On the occasion of the dissemination meeting, Director of the Family Health Division at GHS and Advisory Principal Investigator of the pilot project, Dr. Gloria Quansah Asare presented the project rationale and methodology. VSI Associate Medical Director Dr. Nuriye Hodoglugil presented the project results, which demonstrate that that the distribution of misoprostol increased protection against this condition among women who delivered outside of a facility, and that women are capable of taking misoprostol correctly at home births after receiving education at ANC.
Following the presentation of results, meeting attendees, including leading obstetricians and gynecologists in the Ministry of Health’s Technical Advisory Group and health care providers who participated in the pilot, developed recommendations for national scale-up of misoprostol distribution at ANC as a part of Ghana’s strategy for reducing maternal mortality. Dr. Quansah Asare reiterated this recommendation on behalf of GHS, calling for scale-up of this intervention to additional districts where maternal health resources are limited. As she closed the meeting, she called upon the meeting participants, “Please keep the torch burning. We are sure that very soon we will have more misoprostol to continue and to scale up.”
Ghana is among a growing group of African countries committed to getting this essential medicine to the women who need it most to prevent maternal deaths due to postpartum hemorrhage. Since 2008, VSI has been working with GHS to introduce misoprostol tablets for this important use in maternal health, and in 2011 GHS and VSI launched this pilot assessing distribution at the community-level.
To learn more about VSI's work in Ghana, click here.
Local news coverage:
Modern Ghana, March 20, 2012, "Curbing maternal deaths: GHS distributes misoprostol to expectant mothers"