A new ‘cost-effective’ method to stop fatal post-childbirth bleeding has been showcased by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) .
The innovative Non-Pneumatic Anti-shock Garments (NASGs) was on display on the concluding day of the Women Deliver conference in the Malaysian capital.
Research indicates wrapping the NASG from the ankle to the navel of a woman facing post-delivery bleeding and awaiting transfer to a hospital can save her.
The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Safe Motherhood Program said their studies in Nigeria, Egypt, Zambia, Zimbabwe and India between 2004 and 2012 found a 50 percent decrease of maternal mortality when the NASG was used.
Post-delivery heavy bleeding medically known as PPH or post-partum haemorrhage is a major killer of women during childbirth particularly in developing countries where it takes place at the hand of unskilled attendants.
Survey in Bangladesh indicates PPH accounts for atleast 31 percent of total maternal deaths.
That prompted the government to introduce a WHO recommended tablet ‘Misoprostol’ to prevent the bleeding.
WHO in its recommendation says NASG can be used for women “experiencing PPH and awaiting transfer as a temporary measure until appropriate care is available”.
Pathfinder International that introduced NASG as its first-aid device for medicare said it would cost $70 each but health workers can use it at least 40 times after washing it like linen each time.
“But one has to be cautious using it,” said Prof Suellen Miller of the University of California.
“Just anyone can apply it and it’s easy. But you’ll need a doctor to unwrap it,” she said and that before removing it one has to be certain that the woman’s shock has been reversed”.
“Sudden removal would trigger massive bleeding and she can die”, she warned.
She said the NASG was made of “very stretchy fabric and hold tightly the lower part of a woman who is bleeding. It compresses the area under the garment thus closing the blood vessels down. The blood then shunted to the heart, lung and brain which are the oxygen dependent organs and reverse the shock”.
“The bleeding decreases, the shock is reversed and she is stable,” she said explaining how it works.
She said both Misoprostol tablets and NASG helps. “Misoprostol prevents bleeding and this one stops bleeding when there is no medical attention”.
UNFPA Assistant Secretary General Kate Gilmore said they would help the countries in need of NASG.
The UN-body is the biggest buyer of family planning commodities for developing countries.