In a country that was once a model of health care for the region, formerly known as the prosperous and bountiful “breadbasket of Africa,” women are dying every day in pregnancy and childbirth – nearly all due to preventable conditions. More than a thousand women and girls die each year of maternal causes in Zimbabwe. And for every woman or girl who dies, more than 20 will develop short- and long-term disabilities related to pregnancy or childbirth.1
VSI seeks to support the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and local health care providers in making pregnancy and childbirth safer for Zimbabwean women by integrating easy-to-use and affordable misoprostol tablets into safe motherhood programs and policies. At the invitation of local partners, VSI began its program in Zimbabwe in November 2010.
Together, we are working to improve women's health in Zimbabwe by:
- Training providers to use misoprostol to address the leading causes of maternal death: excessive bleeding after childbirth, or postpartum hemorrhage, and life-threatening incomplete abortion, brought on by miscarriage or unsafe abortion.
- Incorporating misoprostol for maternal health into national clinical guidelines and government policies so health care providers are knowledgeable on how to use the tablets to save women’s lives; misoprostol is now included in the national essential medicines list released in 2012.
- Putting medicine in the hands of women and those who provide them care: Through our operations research with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Zimbabwe, VSI seeks to demonstrate that misoprostol distribution is a feasible means to manage excessive bleeding and incomplete abortion at clinics closest to women. Read about this project.
1POLICY Project. Maternal and Neonatal Program Effort Index, Zimbabwe. A Tool for Maternal Health Advocates. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNACR440.pdf Accessed online 13 October 2011.