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Study Finds 'Inconclusive' Evidence To Support Use Of WHO-Backed Drug To Prevent Hemorrhage During Labor

According to a study published Monday in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “[t]he World Health Organization [WHO] should review its approval of a drug used to prevent life-threatening bleeding in women in childbirth because there is not enough evidence that it is effective,” Reuters reports. The study finds that “the evidence to support the use of misoprostol is ‘at best inconclusive,’ yet it is increasingly used in poorer countries to prevent postpartum hemorrhage (PPH),” the news service writes, noting “researchers analyzed 172 previous studies on the use of misoprostol during labor and found that only six had enough information to say whether or not the drug was effective in preventing PPH in rural and community settings in poor countries” (Kelland, 8/20).

Child Mortality At Twice The Emergency Rate In South Sudan Refugee Camp, MSF Reports

“Children in a refugee camp in South Sudan are dying at more than twice the rate internationally recognized as an emergency, according to new figures [.pdf] released by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” the Guardian reports. “On an average day in the Yusuf Batil camp … three or four children under the age of five will die,” but, “[i]n a ‘normal’ emergency situation, the number would be one or two deaths daily for every 10,000 children,” the news service writes. “The overall mortality rate, which takes into account adults and older children, is also substantially above the emergency threshold,” according to the Guardian, which adds, “About 58 percent of the camp’s reported deaths have been children under five, while more than 25 percent have been people over 50” (Copnall, 8/20).

Blog Examines Potential Health Implications Of Global Child Marriage Act For Women, Girls

In this post in Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Belkis Giorgis, senior technical advisor for the Leadership Management and Governance Project at MSH, reports on the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (House Resolution 6087), which “establishes a strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of girls.” She writes, “If passed into law, the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act must be implemented in a matter that views the long-term resolution of child marriage as ensuring that young girls are kept in school,” adding, “Most importantly, the legislation must provide effective means to enforce it, to ensure long-term health impact for young women and girls” (8/16).

Despite Controversy, WHO Not Likely To Change Its Stance On Misoprostol Use

Highlighting a recent report by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine about the use of the drug misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and the WHO’s inclusion of the drug on its Essential Medicine List, Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in this post in her “Global Health Blog,” “Seldom has there been a drug that has excited as much controversy as misoprostol.” She continues, “Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, which is why it can stop postpartum hemorrhage, the cause of around a quarter of maternal deaths,” but “there has been a huge fight over whether and how well it works, which in some quarters has been ideologically motivated, because misoprostol can also bring about an abortion.”

World Breastfeeding Week Begins Wednesday

On the 20th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, which begins Wednesday, “UNICEF says strong national policies supporting breastfeeding could prevent the deaths of around one million children under five in the developing world each year,” a UNICEF press release states (8/1). Launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and commemorated every year from August 1 to 7 in more than 170 countries, the week aims “to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world,” according to a WHO media note (8/1). This year’s theme is “Let’s celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week Successfully, understanding the past, planning the future,” the Himalayan reports (8/1). USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) blog notes the Kenya Division of Nutrition, with technical assistance from MCHIP, “developed a Facebook page to provide educational and event information surrounding WBW” and to highlight a different theme each day of the week (7/30).

Access To Quality Health Care, Political Will Essential For Continued Progress In Reducing Maternal Mortality

In this Daily Beast opinion piece, Sarah Brown, an adjunct professor at the Institute for Global Health Innovations at Imperial College in London and global patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, and Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynecology and deputy head of clinical sciences at St. George’s University of London, highlight the Global Health Policy Summit scheduled to take place in London on Wednesday. Led by Ara Darzi, former U.K. heath minister and chair of the World Economic Forum’s global health group, “this event is driving a new, dedicated approach to find radical answers and new collaborations,” they write, noting, “Our particular stake in the summit is the maternal health session that is specifically taking on an assessment of lessons learned and the next critical steps to take in order to reduce maternal mortality.”

IPS Reports On Efforts To Prevent Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission At Public Hospital In Cameroon

“For nearly two years, not a single child with HIV has been born at the public hospital in the Cite-Verte district of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon,” Inter Press Service reports, adding, “Emilien Fouda, the hospital’s director, says this proud record is the result of combined effort by his staff and community support groups.” The news service discusses efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission at the hospital, highlighting a program run by a community group called the No Limit for Women Project (NOLFOWOP). “‘The [program] includes awareness-raising, voluntary — and confidential — screening for HIV, testing for other sexually transmitted infections, and birthing practices that minimize the risk of HIV transmission,’ Fouda told IPS,” the news service writes. However, IPS notes, “Community support groups like NOLFOWOP are only present at some of the country’s hospitals, and not all public health centers systematically test women giving birth for HIV” (Nzouankeu, 8/3).

U.N. Urges Philippines To Pass Reproductive Health Bill Amid Protests From Catholic Church

“The United Nations has urged the Philippines to pass a bill that will allow the government to provide free contraceptives,” BBC News reports (8/5). “UNFPA country coordinator Ugochi Florence Daniels said the [reproductive health (RH)] bill is important for the Philippines to achieve its health-related targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” including maternal health, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality, the Philippine Star writes (Crisostomo, 8/4). “The House of Representatives plans to decide Tuesday whether to end debate on the bill and put it to a vote,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times notes (Gomez, 8/5).

Health Worker Training Program In Tanzania's Kigoma Region Reducing Maternal Mortality Rate

Inter Press Service reports on the successful efforts of Tanzania’s Kigoma Region “to train assistant medical officers to conduct life-saving c-sections at its rural health centers,” allowing pregnant women with complications to deliver at more local facilities instead of having to travel to regional or district hospitals. Tanzania’s maternal mortality rate is high, at 578 deaths for every 100,000 live births, IPS notes. “[A]t one point the Kigoma Region had the highest rate in the country, at 933 per 100,000 live births in the early 1980s,” but “maternal mortality in this region [now] is considered to be lower than in the rest of the country,” according to the news service.

Blog Examines Impact Of Adolescent Pregnancy In South Asia

As part of its monthly series Stories Behind the Statistics, “guest edited by FHI 360 on behalf of USAID’S IYWG, which provides technical leadership to improve the reproductive and sexual health of young people,” the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog features a story by Gaj Bahadur Gurung, program coordinator for the National Federation of Women Living with HIV and AIDS in Nepal, who discusses the impact of adolescent pregnancy on girls and young women in South Asia. He writes, “Policies and programs must both help prevent early and unintended pregnancy (for married and unmarried women) and mitigate the negative consequences for girls who do become pregnant. Programs should provide young women access to, control over, and informed choice of their sexual and maternal health services” (8/3).