Abi Weaver is policy communications officer for PATH’s Advocacy and Public Policy department.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that PATH is busy driving forward dozens of groundbreaking projects. You also know that most of these projects start quietly—in our Seattle lab or shop, for example, or in a community overseas—and over time they develop into the transformative health solutions that we profile here each week.
Lately, we’ve been applying what we’ve learned through these projects to support the new United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. We are investigating ways to overcome the persistent barriers preventing 13 often-overlooked medical products from reaching the world’s disadvantaged communities. Included in this list of essential health supplies are contraceptives to help women plan their families, oxytocin to stop mothers from bleeding after childbirth, oral rehydration salts and zinc to treat childhood diarrhea, and antibiotics like amoxicillin to treat pneumonia in newborns.
Develop, improve, deliver
Catharine Taylor, leader of PATH’s Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition program, has been heading up the group that is exploring best practices and innovations—one of the commission’s three focus areas. Our experience developing health technologies—specifically our woman’s condom, oxytocin in the Uniject™ injection system, chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care, and neonatal resuscitators—and our work in improving the quality and delivery of health supplies are helping the UN commission develop recommendations aimed at improving access to essential commodities.
Watch our video to learn how oxytocin in the Uniject™ injection system can help reduce severe bleeding after childbirth.
When announced later this fall, these recommendations will center on improving global markets, national delivery, and integration of the private sector and consumer needs for lifesaving commodities. In anticipation, we’re advocating for financial commitments and national strategies to support these goals.
For example, during the Child Survival Call to Action last week in Washington, DC, we helped announce that two private companies, the US and Canadian governments, and several leading global health organizations pledged more than US$20 million to accelerate progress toward ending preventable child deaths from diarrhea and pneumonia.
Strategies to save lives
Several countries are also developing and adopting ambitious national strategies to tackle the most common killers of children under age five by rapidly expanding access to essential medicines. Nigeria, for example, is employing community health workers to deliver health supplies from urban pharmacies to rural health facilities.
PATH is also conducting a series of regional consultations with partners and decision-makers from around the world to identify effective ways to produce, deliver, and use three maternal health medicines—oxytocin, misoprostol, and magnesium sulfate. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth.
By advising the commission, PATH has the opportunity to help save the lives of an estimated 2.5 million women and children by 2015. Check back in September to learn how this important initiative is progressing.