Postpartum hemorrhage in resource-poor settings

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2006 Mar;92(3):202-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2005.12.009. Epub 2006 Jan 19.


Despite the strong interest of international health agencies, worldwide maternal mortality has not declined substantially over the past 10 years. Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the most common cause of maternal death across the world, responsible for more than 25% of deaths annually. Although effective tools for prevention and treatment of PPH are available, most are not feasible or practical for use in the developing world where many births still occur at home with untrained birth attendants. Application of many available clinical solutions in rural areas would necessitate substantial changes in government infrastructure and in local culture and customs surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Before treatment can be administered, prompt and accurate diagnosis must be made, which requires training and appropriate blood measurement tools. After diagnosis, appropriate interventions that can be applied in remote settings are needed. Many uterotonics known to be effective in reducing PPH in tertiary care settings may not be useful in community settings because they require refrigeration and/or skilled administration. Moreover, rapid transfer to a higher level of care must be available, a challenge in many settings because of distance and lack of transportation. In light of these barriers, low-technological replacements for treatments commonly applied in the developed-world must be utilized. Community education, improvements to emergency care systems, training for birth attendants, misoprostol, and Uniject have shown promise as potential solutions. In the short term, it is expedient to capitalize on practical opportunities that utilize the existing strengths and resources in each community or region in order to implement appropriate solutions to save the lives of women during childbirth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Maternal Health Services / economics*
  • Maternal Health Services / trends
  • Maternal Mortality / trends*
  • Maternal Welfare / economics*
  • Maternal Welfare / trends
  • Needs Assessment
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / mortality*
  • Poverty*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rural Health
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors