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.
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The Single-Visit Approach as a Cervical Cancer Prevention Strategy Among Women With HIV in Ethiopia: Successes and Lessons Learned
Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer for women in Ethiopia. Using a single-visit approach to prevent cervical cancer, the Addis Tesfa project tested women with HIV through visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid wash and, if tests results were positive, offered immediate cryotherapy of the precancerous lesion or referral for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. The objective of this article is to review screening and treatment outcomes over nearly 4 years of project implementation and to identify lessons learned to improve cervical cancer prevention programs in Ethiopia and other resource-constrained settings.
Sometimes, delivering mixed messages is a good thing, as an integrated project in the Lake Tanganyika region has proved.