Committed to Reducing Maternal Mortality and Complications
ROME, October 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –
“Many preventable deaths occur during pregnancy and childbirth in the developing world
where maternal mortality ranges from 200 to 2,000 per 100,000 live births. Moreover, for
each woman who dies, an estimated 16 to 30 survive avoidable complications, often
miserably,” said Professor Gamal Serour, President of the International Federation of
Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), presenting the most recent Initiatives for the
prevention and treatment of post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) and obstetric fistula in
low-resource countries at the FIGO2012 Congress in Rome, Italy.
PPH is the first cause of maternal mortality in low-resource countries, accounting for
approximately 30% of maternal deaths. For PPH prevention and treatment uterotonic therapy
is key. The most widely recommended agent is oxytocin, which requires parenteral
administration, as well as sterile equipment, and refrigeration, all factors hindering its
use in low-resource settings.
Misoprostol, a synthetic E1 prostaglandin analogue available in tablet form, stable at
room temperature, well absorbed orally and sublingually, has increasingly been adopted as
an alternative strategy for PPH care.
“Our PPH Initiative, funded by a grant to Gynuity Health Projects from the
Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation, advocates for and disseminates evidence-based information
on misoprostol for PPH. It is part of a global project for translating scientific and
operational research into effective policies and practice,” Professor Hamid Rushwan, FIGO
Chief Executive, explained.
A major concern for women who give birth in low-resource countries is obstetric
fistula, perhaps the most tragic of preventable childbirth complications, as affected
women in nearly all cases lose their babies, suffer from health problems, including
chronic incontinence, and are often abandoned by their husbands, forced to live social
Obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal usually caused by prolonged obstructed
labour, is largely avoidable by delaying the age of first pregnancy, stopping harmful
traditional practices, and granting timely access to obstetric care. According to the WHO,
[http://www.who.int/en ] each year between 50,000 to 100,000 women develop fistula. More
than 2,000,000 women live with untreated fistula in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
FIGO recently launched the Fistula Initiative which focuses on its prevention and
treatment in 12 African and Asian countries. With the aim to ensure high quality clinical
training for the care of women with obstetric fistula and to increase capacity of services
and staff to provide comprehensive management of fistula, FIGO co-ordinated the
production, funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), of the Global
Competency-Based Fistula Surgery Training Manual.