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Maternal deaths increase on shortage of excessive bleeding preventive kits

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A doctor attends to a  woman soon after delivery. Globally 130,000 women die every year due to excessive  post-delivery bleeding with most of them in sub-Saharan  Africa. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

A doctor attends to a woman soon after delivery. Globally 130,000 women die every year due to excessive post-delivery bleeding with most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

By ANGELA OKETCH AOketch@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Tuesday, January 10   2017 at  18:52

In Summary

  • Post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) is the number one killer of women in maternity wards.
  • It kills about 130,000 women every year, majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Statistics show that the number of maternal deaths associated with PPH has been on the increase.

While giving birth, women face deadly risks such as bleeding. Often though this can be controlled by devices which, however, are occasionally out of stock in many Kenyan hospitals.

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When Lilian Achieng walked into Rachuonyo South sub-county Hospital on Sunday, November 20, 2016 to deliver, she hardly expected anything unexpected to happen.

In less than one hour, she had delivered a 3.9-kilogramme bouncing baby boy, but she did not live to see him. She died immediately after giving birth due to excessive bleeding, also termed as post-partum haemorrhage (PPH), according to Dr Peter Ogolla who attended to her.

PPH is the number one killer of women in maternity wards. It kills about 130,000 women every year, majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

More than half of all the deaths occur within 24 hours of delivery. The condition is mainly caused by a retained placenta or when the uterus fails to contract after delivery.

According to the World Health Organisation, PPH is loss of 500ml of blood or more within 24 hours after giving birth, while severe PPH is defined as a blood loss of 1000 ml or more within the same timeframe. Each pregnancy magnifies the mother’s health risks, especially when she doesn’t have access to healthcare.

Speaking to the Business Daily, Dr Ogolla, who is the Medical Officer of Health at Rachuonyo South, said Ms Achieng had lost a lot of blood.

“Immediately after she had her baby, we injected her with oxytocin drug to control bleeding, but it did not stop,” said Dr Ogolla.

He admits that the hospital has saved many lives with the same condition as Ms Achieng using Uterine Balloon Tamponade (UTB), but on that unfortunate day, the kits were out of stock.

The UBT is a device recognised by the Ministry of Health as a cost-effective treatment option. It is the most efficient device for controlling excessive bleeding in women.

The device has been approved by the ministry and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and placed among the essential items.

It was endorsed by the Kenya Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society during a conference in Kisumu last August.
It is also in the WHO document and PPH protocol in Kenya, but is underutilised by hospitals because most of the care providers do not know how to use it.

Statistics from the Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) show that the number of maternal deaths associated with PPH has been on the increase.

In 2015, Kenya reported 11,770 maternal deaths, 2,246 more than the 9,524 recorded in 2014.

By October 2016, 9,854 mothers have lost their lives due to PPH across the country.

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