Last year, the WHO, in its latest recommendation on managing postpartum hemorrhage, endorsed the use of non-pneumatic anti-shock garments (NASGs) ‘as a temporising measure till appropriate care is available’ and suggested that national guidelines be reviewed to include NASGs as a low-tech first aid for postpartum hemorrhage.
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First Report Highlighting NASG Use Outside of Clinical Trials Published by Pathfinder International and the University of California San Francisco
Nearly all maternal deaths occur in the developing world and, tragically, almost all are preventable. Many occur in areas with limited infrastructure: unreliable electricity, too few doctors and midwives, and inadequate equipment and supplies. Therefore, an easy-to-use, affordable technology to manage postpartum hemorrhage could save thousands of women’s lives each year.
"Working in parts of the world where distance is the difference between life and death demands solutions that can begin in the community or in the home," said Purnima Mane, President and CEO of Pathfinder International.
"Having a medical problem during pregnancy can be stressful, even fatal under dire circumstances. However, knowing the solution and applying it at the right time can help save the lives of many. And that is what a new technological innovation known as non-pneumatic anti-shock garment has been modeled for: to save the lives of women who experience excessive bleeding after child birth."
“Working in parts of the world where distance is the difference between life and death demands solutions that can begin in the community or in the home, and keep women safe at every stage,” said Purnima Mane, president and CEO of Pathfinder International, a non-profit family planning and reproductive health organization.
The innovative Non-Pneumatic Anti-shock Garments (NASGs) was on display on the concluding day of the Women Deliver conference in the Malaysian capital. Research indicates wrapping the NASG from the ankle to the navel of a woman facing post-delivery bleeding and awaiting transfer to a hospital can save her.
“We have made great strides towards Millennium Development Goal 5, but we know there’s more work to do to reach that target,” Mamta Sharma, chairperson, National Commission for Women said speaking at the India launch. “These new partnerships demonstrate innovative ways of working together to address this issue and bring India closer to our goal.”
Coordinated efforts by NGOs and the private sector are necessary to take various government schemes to grass roots level and to reduce the maternal mortality rate, National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma said on Tuesday.
Hauwa Mansour Waziri, the nurse who heads the hospital's pre-natal clinic, says that between 350 and 450 pregnant women, some as young as 15, now take advantage of these services each week. Some travel from neighbouring states to receive ultrasounds, counselling on "danger signs" in pregnancies, and information on nutrition. They are strongly urged to arrive at the hospital to deliver "while you can still walk". Those who wait until the last minute can endanger the life of their child.
"It reduces blood loss by 50 percent and has decreased maternal mortality and morbidity by 40-60 percent in studies in Egypt and Nigeria," says Suellen Miller, RN, Ph.D., director of the Safe Motherhood Program at the University of California at San Francisco, who helped develop the project with Pathfinder and has led trials of the LifeWrap. "Women are able to be stabilized and travel long distances in the garment to large hospitals where they can receive care."
Pathfinder International, a reproductive health NGO, is using the NASG in Nigeria and India. Dr. Farouk Jega, program manager in Pathfinder's Abuja, Nigeria office, says that the NASG helps address a critical problem in his country, where blood is often in short supply. "Clinicians can't always refrigerate blood banks because of spotty electricity, and many people don't want to donate blood because they fear being tested for HIV," says Dr. Jega.
Blood transfusion is essential for preventing maternal death from postpartum hemorrhage but blood bank refrigeration is a problem in areas without reliable electricity. With funding from the Cloverleaf Foundation, Pathfinder International developed a solar-powered system to address this problem.