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Uniting Africans to save women's lives from postpartum hemorrhage

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Africa is at crisis level. African women of reproductive age have the highest death risk from maternal causes in the world, with an average of 830 deaths per 100,000 live births. As it currently stands, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality in Africa by 75 percent by 2015 is a far-reaching target. One proven effort to close the gap is to aggressively address one of the least-discussed but largest contributors to the high MMR. Severe bleeding after childbirth, also known as postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), is the most fatal complication, accounting for at least one-quarter of maternal deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, PPH occurs in 10-15 women out of 100 giving birth in developing countries, and severe PPH that can lead to death occurs in two out of 100 women. In Africa, PPH contributes to an even higher proportion of maternal mortality. In a region where half of the women deliver without skilled providers, when PPH occurs, a great number of these women die, oftentimes leading to the death or neglect of their newborns as well.

"Maternal mortality is closely related to the accessibility of quality health care. There is an urgent need to address the overwhelming number of deaths due to PPH because most cases are preventable. We can save these women with simple PPH prevention and treatment techniques. Whether the woman gives birth in a facility with a skilled provider present or at home with a family member, we have proven methods to share in Africa that cover the range of birthing situations," comments Dr. Koki Agarwal, Program Director, Access to Clinical and Community Maternal, Neonatal and Women's Health Services (ACCESS).

The ACCESS Program will soon bring together more than 200 Africans from 15 countries to address programming designed to prevent and treat PPH. "Preventing Mortality from Postpartum Hemorrhage in Africa: Moving from Research to Prac
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Contact: Rebekah Titus
rtitus@jhpiego.net
410-537-1819
Johns Hopkins University
23-Mar-2006


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