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Where a woman gives birth should not decide her fate, especially when affordable, effective medicines exist to treat and prevent the leading causes of maternal deaths.

A new report from PATH, Safeguarding pregnant women with essential medicines, offers a targeted agenda for global and national decision-makers to increase the quality and availability of three maternal health medicines that address excessive bleeding after childbirth and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Overcoming barriers to better maternal health

At the heart of good maternal health care is a set of three basic, low-cost, but essential medicines: oxytocin, misoprostol, and magnesium sulfate. The new report calls on advocates, policymakers, and program implementers to overcome the barriers that keep women from accessing these medicines, which cost less than US$1 per dose.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Generating data for informed decision-making by strengthening data collection systems to improve use as well as supply and demand forecasting.
  • Ensuring the safety and efficacy of maternal medicines through manufacturer certification, improved quality assurance, and better storage.
  • Addressing inappropriate use through enhanced national policies, health worker training, consumer research, and user-friendly dosing and packaging.
  • Strengthening local and national health systems.

PATH hosted a series of roundtable discussions with various maternal health stakeholders earlier this year to discuss ways to increase access to quality maternal health medicines. The ideas, themes, and issues shared at each session formed the foundation for this report, which also builds on the work of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. PATH thanks the individuals and organization co-sponsors for their participation in the meetings.

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Posted September 26, 2012.