In Defense of Misoprostol – Protecting Women’s Rights to Lifesaving Maternal Health Care

In 2011, the World Health Organization added the drug misoprostol to its Essential Medicines List for the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Postpartum hemorrhage is the single greatest direct cause of maternal mortality, accounting for 25 percent of deaths worldwide. The addition of misoprostol represented a great step forward in global efforts to make delivery safer for women everywhere, especially in resource-poor settings, where women suffer disproportionately and treatment options are limited.

However, this month, a study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine  that questions the WHO’s decision. Leading experts at Pathfinder International, including Ellen Israel and Cathy Solter, have carefully reviewed this new study and find its methodology flawed. Pathfinder also question its authors’ understanding of epidemiology and the realities of global maternal health. Misoprostol saves lives by contracting the uterus to reduce or stop bleeding, and is currently the only uterotonic that is heat stable, easily transportable, and easily administered. Pathfinder is deeply concerned that this study—despite its numerous deficiencies—might affect the availability of misoprostol, denying women access to the essential, lifesaving measure they need.

For more perspective on this study and information about the importance of misoprostol, read our newly released Technical Memo.

Media Contact

For more information, please contact communications@pathfinder.org or call 617.972.1291.

Related News

U.N. Urged to Reaffirm Reproductive Rights in Post-2015 Agenda

Purnima Mane, president and chief executive officer of Pathfinder International, told IPS, “We are delighted the final set of [proposed] SDGs contains four critical targets on SRHR: three under the health goal and one under the gender goal. But we have not reached the finish line yet. We must all continue to raise our voices to ensure these SRHR targets are intact when the final version is approved."

Call for Expression of Interest in Reproductive, Maternal, and Neonatal Health Innovation Fund Grants

Ethiopia's Federal Ministry of Health has initiated the Reproductive, Maternal, and Neonatal Health Innovation Fund (RIF). The Fund will finance innovative projects that address demand-side barriers in reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health. Deadline for submission of Expression of Interest to the Federal Ministry of Healthwill be September 15, 2014.

Scroll to top