Country studies examine barriers to maternal health supplies

As part of an effort to better become familiar with the key issues hampering maternal health commodity security, The Partnership has partially funded two country studies on critical barriers to accessing maternal health supplies in Uganda and Bangladesh. The studies, conducted by Population Action International, trace the availability of four commodities that reduce maternal mortality: oxytocin, misoprostal, magnesium sulfate and manual vacuum aspirations (MVAs).

Difference in availability of maternal health drugs

Oxytocin - an injection to prevent and treat post-partum haemorrhage - is widely available and used in health centres in Uganda, reflecting a sharp increase between 2004 and 2009. However, magnesium sulphate - which is used to treat pre-eclampsia - is not widely available and hardly used.

Improving the health of women and children in countries requires access to and effective use of essential commodities. Yet many factors impede access to these commodities starting with policies, financing, issues of procurement and supply through to rational use.

While reproductive health commodities have received much attention, maternal health drugs and devices have not been subject to the same concerted and collaborative efforts targeting their improved use.

Work has been done. Of note the H4 have revised the list of essential medicines and devices for maternal health, yet more remains to be done, especially at the country level where many of the barriers to commodity security manifest themselves. In Uganda, for example: oxytocin, an injection to prevent and treat post-partum haemorrhage is available in widely available and used in health centres in Uganda, reflecting a sharp increase between 2004 and 2009; however magnesium sulfate, which is used to treat pre-eclampsia is not widely available and hardly used.

As part of an effort to better become familiar with the key issues hampering maternal health commodity security, The Partnership has partially funded two country studies on critical barriers to accessing maternal health supplies in Uganda and Bangladesh. The studies, conducted by Population Action International, trace the availability of four commodities that reduce maternal mortality: oxytocin, misoprostal, magnesium sulfate and MVAs.

Each country study provides an overview of the health system structure, including information on the policy environment; financing for maternal health supplies, forecasting, procurement and supply chain issues and development partners involved in maternal health. Looking at these different aspects, the reports demonstrate the complexity of ensuring maternal health commodity security by displaying the different barriers to securing different drugs and commodities. The reports also include a section on the continuum of care, outlining the ways in which maternal and child health supplies are or are not linked at the policy and service delivery level.

The Reports also provide advocacy entry points for improving access to and availability of maternal health supplies. Population Action International comes to this research with much experience on reproductive health commodities. They had already conducted six similar country studies on reproductive health commodities.

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