Tag Archives: South America

Radiotherapy will be required to treat cervical cancer in low-and-middle income countries

When I was in Zambia I saw ways in which nurses treat cervical cancer in low resource settings. Women who do not benefit from the HPV vaccine and still develop cervical cancer are often subject to visual inspection of the cancer typically with a digital camera followed by cryotherapy to freeze the diseased part of the cervix. Some researchers question whether this approach to cervical cancer treatment is effective in low-and-middle income countries. Globally, the cervical cancer burden falls disproportionately upon women in low and middle-income countries. In fact, approximately 90% of deaths from cervical cancer occur in these countries like Bolivia, Guinea, and Swaziland. Rates are highest in Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Melanesia.

Continue reading Radiotherapy will be required to treat cervical cancer in low-and-middle income countries

NEW: Drug That Prevents PostPartum Hemorrhage Added To WHO Essential Medicines List

As I have written many times before postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) or excessive uterine bleeding after childbirth is the leading cause of maternal mortality in low-and-middle income countries. The recommended drug to prevent PPH according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is oxytocin. When administered in its recommended dose it causes little to no side effects. Oxytocin, the WHO’s current gold standard therapy, however, must be refrigerated and administered by skilled health workers posing two obstacles to its wider use in low resource, tropical settings.

Some countries have approved misoprostol, an oral drug, to prevent PPH, but there are several concerns that its use can be misappropriated for abortions instead of used solely for PPH. The World Health Organization has listed misoprostol as an alternative to oxytocin if it is not available.

Now, another PPH preventative drug, carbetocin, has been added to the latest updated 2019 WHO Essential Medicines List. The announcement was made last week. Unlike oxytocin, even at high temperatures carbetocin remains effective. The recommendation is that carbetocin can be used when oxytocin is not available or if its quality is uncertain. Additionally, the cost must be comparable to oxytocin.

Continue reading NEW: Drug That Prevents PostPartum Hemorrhage Added To WHO Essential Medicines List

Venezuela’s Health Systems are crumbling – and Harming Women in Particular

Health workers and patients protesting at the Hospital Dr. Jose Maria Vargas in Caracas, Venezuela. EPA/Edwinge Montilva

Pia Riggirozzi, University of Southampton

Venezuela sits on the world’s biggest oil reserves, but in terms of GDP growth per capita, it’s now South America’s poorest economy. It is mired the worst economic crisis in its history, with an inflation rate in the region of 500%, a volatile exchange rate, and crippling debts that have increased fivefold since 2006.

The economic crisis is inflaming a longstanding “economic war” between the government and the business sector – and a dangerous cycle of protest and repression is further polarising Venezuela’s already divided society.

In this scenario, violence of all sorts is approaching what could be a point of no return. The very ability of democracy to combine forces of transformation and resistance is at stake.

Continue reading Venezuela’s Health Systems are crumbling – and Harming Women in Particular

5 Maternal Health Interventions That Save Mothers’ Lives

Every day 800 women die during childbirth or from pregnancy complications. This startling statistic represents women who not only live in sub-Saharan Africa where most maternal deaths occur but also throughout the world.

In order to reduce the number of maternal deaths in low- and middle-income countries across the globe design teams, social entrepreneurs, innovators, and NGOs are creating innovative ways in which to save more mothers’ lives through inexpensive interventions that are conducive to low resource settings.

In many hospitals and health clinics, for example, power can go out at any moment requiring alternatives that allow health workers workarounds to the perpetual problem of power outages. In these settings, women can also experience life-threatening postpartum hemorrhage that requires immediate attention with interventions that stop bleeding. Additionally, some women do not have the money to afford the items needed during childbirth and innovators are solving those problems as well.

While maternal deaths have fallen 50 percent since 1990, in some countries the maternal mortality rate remains stagnant. Only half of expecting mothers in developing countries receive the health care they need to deliver healthy babies and to survive childbirth.

Below are five innovative interventions that are used in countries where maternal mortality is high in order to make a positive impact on saving mothers’ lives.

  • Jhpiego: (Updated, May 11, 2017) While Jhpiego developed a “testing pen” to catch and diagnose eclampsia in its earliest stages the project did not move forward after rigorous testing.

    Safe Surgeries: Jhpiego has partnered with the GE Foundation, funder for the Safe Surgery 2020 Initiative, to ensure mothers have access to safe, affordable, life-saving caesarean sections in Ethiopia. With the help and input of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, Safe Surgery 2020 provides training, leadership skills, and updated procedures for safe surgeries at partner institutions in Ethiopia through implementing partner Jhpiego. The results have seen improved patient care and recovery, fewer surgery backlogs, reduced infections, and a holistic approach to safer surgeries.

  • PATH: PATH created an antishock garment that controls postpartum bleeding by applying pressure to the lower body and forcing blood upwards and prevents hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage is the number one cause of maternal deaths.
  • PATH: PATH also developed a balloon tamponade to stop uterine bleeding early. While there are other balloon tamponades in the market, they are expensive and inaccessible, especially in the developing world.
  • Ayzh: Ayzh produces kits with necessary materials for mothers and newborns living in poverty. These kits provide everything from medicine to clothes for the babies and make their lives that little bit easier.
  • WeCareSolar: WeCareSolar provides “solar suitcases” full of lights, mobile communication devices, and medical machinery. This allows those devices to operate in areas without access to electricity.

Art provided by uzuriart.com.

Featured Video: Periods Change Lives

Once girls get their period in low- and middle-income countries where resources are low, their lives change — sometimes irreparably.

When girls get their periods they oftentimes have to drop out of school and work around their home instead. And on top of that, many cannot afford sanitary napkins.

Irise International, an East African organization, is fighting the stigma of menstruation and providing easy, affordable solutions for girls when they get their periods.

See their work in their video: Periods Change Lives

Continue reading Featured Video: Periods Change Lives