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Proving a Woman’s Worth: Saving Mothers’ Lives in Senegal

June 28, 2017

 

As of June, 5th 2017 the CDC states that about 700 women in the United States die each year at delivery or soon after delivery due to complications during childbirth (https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth).  

A USAID report states that in Senegal, “almost 1,800 women will lose their lives every year while giving birth. The major cause of these deaths is massive, uncontrolled bleeding following delivery, a condition known as postpartum hemorrhage” (www.usaid.gov).  In an effort to alleviate this problem in Senegal, a USAID program recruited educated volunteers to instruct mothers and families of the dangers of postpartum hemorrhage.  With support from the Gynuity Health Project and USAID, Senegal’s Direction of Reproductive Health and Child Survival launched a study to see how they can change these high maternal mortality rates.

From 2013 to 2014, Senegal’s government choose the region Koulouck Mbada and trained volunteers to administer either misoprostol or oxytocin, two hemorrhage-preventing drugs. Misoprostol does not require refrigeration (which may not be accessible in rural areas) and is much cheaper than oxytocin

 

The study selected 28 communities based on the number of deliveries performed annually, how committed their local health volunteers were, and how geologically accessibility the communities were.  Astounding results were obtained within 15 months of this study in Koulouck Mbada where misoprostol was administered to women giving birth at home. The number of participants was 1,333 mothers, and after administration of the drugs maternal mortality plunged.  Prior to the study three women in this area died each month giving birth. Those are frightening odds for mothers.  During the study, only one of the 1,333 participants hemorrhaged, and she survived. The study results indicated that maternal mortality dropped precipitously, and many mothers now decided to give birth in a health facility where the hemorrhage-preventing drugs are likely to be available.

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