Home Stories Unitaid and Jhpiego reach first women with prevention and treatment for life-threatening bleeding

Unitaid and Jhpiego reach first women with prevention and treatment for life-threatening bleeding

A $5.9 million grant from the European Union will see the Unitaid-funded, Jhpiego-led project expand efforts to Nigeria and Zambia

Geneva/Baltimore, 9 July 2024 – Three critical drugs for preventing and treating postpartum hemorrhage – the leading cause of death in childbirth – have reached women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, India and Kenya through a Unitaid-funded, Jhpiego-led program.

Postpartum hemorrhage, which is defined as a severe loss of blood after giving birth, affects 14 million women each year. Four in five resulting deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries where access to life-saving medicines is limited.

Currently, most women who give birth in resource-limited settings do so without access to quality medicines that can prevent or treat life-threatening complications like postpartum hemorrhage. Although three World Health Organization recommended drugs have the potential to expand prevention and treatment options for women, including those who give birth at home, many health facilities still rely heavily on a medicine that requires cold-chain storage and is often of poor quality.

The Unitaid-Jhpiego program is working in partnership with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), PATH and country governments to ensure that the right medications for postpartum hemorrhage are available when, where and how women giving birth in lower-resourced settings need them, to reduce maternal death.

With tens of thousands of medicine doses already delivered and more than 1500 healthcare workers trained in the safe administration or delivery of the three medicines, the program is on track to reach an estimated 100,000 pregnant women across the four countries each year. 

“Far too often we see drugs developed with high-income health systems in mind, neglecting the needs of people in lower-income settings and contributing to enormous inequities,” said Dr. Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid. “Unitaid is proud to be working with Jhpiego and all our partners to address this oversight and promote safe births for women everywhere.”

The AMPLI-PPHI (Accelerating Measurable Progress and Leveraging Investments for Postpartum Hemorrhage Impact) project focuses on generating evidence and learning, creating an enabling environment, and preparing the market to enable broad uptake of the three drugs – heat-stable carbetocin, tranexamic acid and misoprostol – in low- and middle-income countries.

Now, with an additional $5.9 million (EUR5.5 million) in funding from Unitaid, the program is expanding efforts to generate evidence and learning as well as create an enabling environment in Nigeria and Zambia as part of Safe Birth Africa, a new joint Unitaid-UNFPA venture backed by the European Union.

Women in sub-Saharan Africa suffer disproportionately high risks in pregnancy and childbirth, and Nigeria, which represents less than 3% of the world’s population, accounts for 20% of all maternal deaths globally.

“Supporting countries to improve maternal health has been at the core of Jhpiego’s work since we began working with countries over 50 years ago,” said Dr. Leslie Mancuso, Jhpiego President and CEO. “We are honored to be part of this innovative project that joins quality care and lifesaving medicines to stop postpartum hemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide. The project learnings and improved market conditions provide low- and middle-income countries a timely, woman-centered strategy to stop bleeding after birth.”

Safe Birth Africa and the AMPLI-PPHI project are part of Unitaid’s broader commitment to reduce deaths from postpartum hemorrhage in low- and middle-income countries, with more than US$65 million currently invested.