Gates Foundation Awards $1.4 Million to UCSF to Reduce Maternal Deaths

The has announced a $1.4 million grant from the to expand African research trials on an anti-shock garment that could reduce maternal deaths in remote areas worldwide.

The trials in Zambia and Zimbabwe will help determine whether early use of the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG), a low-cost reusable neoprene body suit that wraps around a patient's lower trunk and legs to decrease blood loss and force blood back to the heart, lungs, and brain, can reduce mortality and morbidity among women suffering from obstetric hemorrhage. The NASG has already been pilot-tested in tertiary care centers in Egypt and Nigeria, where use of the garment resulted in a 69 percent decrease in death and severe illness for obstetrical hemorrhage patients. The new trials aim to show that morbidity and mortality can be reduced among even larger and more scattered populations whose only direct access to health care is at rural primary healthcare centers.

The estimates that 529,000 women died in pregnancy or childbirth in 2000, more than 99 percent of whom were in developing countries. Obstetric hemorrhage accounts for approximately 25 percent to 30 percent of all maternal deaths.

"Obstetric hemorrhage is the most common cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in developing countries, where the vast majority of women give birth at home or in unequipped primary healthcare centers, many miles from emergency obstetric care," said Suellen Miller, director of Safe Motherhood Programs for the UCSF Women's Global Health Imperative. "An anti-shock garment can decrease obstetric hemorrhage and stabilize a woman until she can receive appropriate care."

"." University of California, San Francisco Press Release 12/07/2007.