Home » Press Center » VSI Newsroom » Zaria dissemination meeting
Feb 2, 2010

Hundreds gather in Zaria, Nigeria to share in success of misoprostol introduction to prevent mothers from bleeding after home births

(ZARIA, NIGERIA) On Tuesday, February 2, 2010, women from northern Nigeria voiced their appreciation for a solution to the excessive bleeding after childbirth that causes many mothers to die unnecessarily in their communities.

Community members, policy makers and representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working to reduce maternal deaths in Nigeria came together in Zaria to learn about the introduction of misoprostol tablets for community-level prevention of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).

The Population and Reproductive Health Partnership (PRHP) at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Venture Strategies Innovations (VSI) and the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley convened a meeting at the Kongo Conference Hotel in Zaria to disseminate the results of a collaborative study demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of distribution of the tablets for prevention of PPH by traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and other community members. 

In a country where an estimated 59,000 women die due to pregnancy and childbirth each year, a statistic that places Nigeria second only to India in the global contribution to maternal deaths, affordable and simple solutions like misoprostol tablets at home births can have a significant impact on bleeding-related mortality.

Dr. Ndola Prata, Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and Medical Director of VSI, provided a primer on the role of misoprostol in managing PPH at the community level and provided examples of other African and Asian countries that have introduced the tablets to prevent mothers from dying in childbirth. Dr. Clara Ejembi, Consultant Community Physician in the Department of Community Medicine at ABU, shared the positive results of the community-based study on prevention of PPH in Zaria.

Dr. Ejembi’s presentation highlighted the success of the project in recruiting women from the project communities, training TBAs and other community-level providers to provide pregnant women with the easy-to-use tablets, and achieving a significant increase in the number of women who were protected from life-threatening bleeding because of the introduction of misoprostol.

The community-based research project commenced in January 2009 and took place in five communities surrounding Zaria, Tsibiri, Hayin Ojo, Yakawada, Unguwan Godo and Dakace. With the help of an elaborate community awareness campaign, the project garnered the support of the local communities, including religious and village leaders and the women who stand to benefit most from access to misoprostol tablets.

On the occasion of the meeting, Abbas Shehu, the Village head of Tsibiri, publicly declared support of this intervention. He said that before the research, women in the village died from bleeding after childbirth, but "in the last one year when the drug was brought to our community, no woman has died due to bleeding after childbirth."

Two mothers from the community of Hayin Ojo 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.

The Honorable Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, expressed support of the potential of misoprostol in Nigeria. Governor of Kaduna State, Arch Mohammed Namadi Sambo and Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Dr. Babangida Aliyu gave goodwill remarks and acknowledged the need to address high maternal mortality in both Kaduna State and the broader region.

Building upon the call for misoprostol expressed by the communities, Dr. Ejembi implored the policy makers in attendance to take this evidence and scale up the intervention to prevent the death of more mothers unnecessarily in Nigeria. “I think we can do this…I think we should do this… I think we must do this, for our women,” said Dr. Ejembi at the close of her presentation. 

This dissemination meeting was co-funded by VSI and the MacArthur Foundation.