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Maternal health products

Increasing access and use of essential medicines and supplies is one of the key strategies to save lives and improve health of millions of women and children. The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities, in 2012, identified 13 essential commodities that addresses causes of death related to pregnancy and childbirth[1]. Among these 13 commodities, medicines for maternal health are essential for reducing maternal mortality. These are oxytocin, misoprostol and magnesium sulphate. These medicines also feature in the list of WHO priority medicines for maternal and child health identified in 2011[2].

Both misprostol and oxytocin are ‘oxytocics’ meaning they induce labour and are primarily used for treatment of post-partum haemorrhage (PPH). Magnesium sulphate has a major role in prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia during pregnancy. Despite being indicated and recommended for treatment of the above conditions, the widespread use of these products has been limited by numerous challenges. For instance, countries have a large variety of magnesium sulphate formulations available that are not in line with WHO recommendations[3]. Oxytocin is often not stored under appropriate conditions[4]. For misoprostol use in PPH, there are few manufacturers who produce them in the required three-pill blister pack according to the dosing regimen, thus leading to procurement challenges.

Conductive policy environment, relevant guidelines and supportive practices are required to improve the uptake of these medicines to help reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 target of reducing maternal mortality.


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SRH Next logoi+logoThis portal is made possible with financial support of Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Reproductive Health Market Intelligence (RHMi+) portal is developed and maintained by i+solutions, as part of the project ‘Making Sexual and Reproductive Health Services work for the next generation (SRH Next)’, jointly implemented by Cordaid, i+solutions, Health Development and Performance (HDP), Swiss Tropical Institute of Public Health and Healthy Entrepreneurs.