1 May 2015: In a new commentary published in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, WHO states that quality of care must improve if the world is to end preventable deaths of mothers and newborn babies globally. The BJOG commentary sets out WHO’s priority thematic areas and framework for quality of care, which must be ensured in order to help reduce preventable maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. WHO “envisions a world where every pregnant woman and newborn receives quality care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period”.
Caesarean section is one of the most common surgeries in the world and rates are rising, particularly in high- and middle-income countries. New studies from HRP show that when caesarean section rates rise towards 10% across a population, the number of maternal and newborn deaths decreases. When the rate goes above 10%, there is no evidence that mortality rates improve. A new WHO statement stresses that caesarean section should only be performed when medically necessary. When performed without medical need, it can put women and their babies at risk of short and long-term health problems. The statement also proposes adopting the Robson classification as an internationally applicable classification system.
Obstetric fistula is the result of prolonged, obstructed labour. It leaves women incontinent, ashamed and often isolated from their communities and affects some 2 million women and girls across Africa and Asia. Providing fistula repairs in developing countries is challenging with a scarcity of surgeons with specialized skills, a lack of facilities and insufficient funding for both surgery and post-operative care. Together with EngenderHealth and USAID, WHO coordinated a multicentre trial to examine whether short-term (7 day) catheterization is not inferior to longer-term (14 day) catheterization in terms of fistula repair breakdown between 7 days and three months after catheter removal. The results show that short-term catheterization is safe and effective. This finding means that in resource-poor settings, fistula repair centres would be able to increase their caseloads using the same amount of resources.
27 February 2015 – Maternal health, wellbeing and survival must remain a central goal and an investment priority in the post-2015 framework for sustainable development to ensure that progress continues and accelerates, with a focus on reducing inequities and discrimination. Attention to maternal mortality and morbidity must be accompanied by improvements along the continuum of care for women and children, including commitments to sexual and reproductive health and newborn and child survival.
Highlights on maternal and perinatal health
WHO and its partners around the world issued a statement on the prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during facility-based delivery. Every woman has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to dignified, respectful care during pregnancy and childbirth. However, across the world many women experience disrespectful, abusive, or neglectful treatment during childbirth in facilities. These practices can violate women’s rights, deter women from seeking and using maternal health care services and can have implications for their health and well-being.
Tetanus Toxoid vaccine
WHO is concerned that misinformation circulating in the media about the Tetanus Toxoid vaccine could have a seriously negative impact on the health of women and children. The Organization confirms that the Tetanus Toxoid (TT) vaccine is safe. The vaccine has been used in 52 countries, to immunize 130 million women to protect them and their newborn babies from tetanus. There is no HCG hormone in tetanus toxoid vaccines.
A new World Health Organization study reveals that only half of women who gave birth preterm in hospitals have received steroid injections which prevent death and disability among vulnerable, preterm newborns. The study is the largest to look at the use of these life-saving drugs internationally. These drugs have existed for decades, don’t require refrigeration, and cost less than US$ 1 an injection.
Preventing postpartum haemorrhage
WHO, Merck and Ferring Pharmaceuticals announce a partnership to evaluate a new, proprietary, room-temperature stable formulation of carbetocin—a drug for preventing postpartum haemorrhage after childbirth.This trial is a new step for WHO. If the trial is successful, it could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of women.