Postpartum hemorrhaging (PPH) – excessive post-birth bleeding in the mother – is the leading cause of maternal deaths globally and is a condition that results in the death of a woman every 10 minutes.
Eighteen percent of all births feature a significant loss of blood, and blood transfusions are often required to prevent a fatality. PHP is a condition that needs an effective curative with a quick response time.
A new study in the Lancet has revealed that a solution may already exist – and has been known since the 1960s but not been considered until recently.
A Japanese medical doctor named Utako Okamoto found that tranexamic acid was able to stop excessive blood loss from a patient during heavy menstruation and, crucially, for PPH. But she was unable to persuade the male-dominated environment at the Kobe Gakuin University to trial the compound.
But good news came in 2010-2011, when the WOMAN (World Maternal Antifibrinolytic) Trial was launched by researchers across the world – a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled experiment directed by the London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Over 20,000 women were involved in the trial, from high- and low-income countries.
Although Okamoto died in 2016, she lived to see the start of the long-delayed trial. If this drug is given clinical approval, it would mean that more than 33,000 mothers would live to see their children grow up out of the 1,00,000 who die annually as a result of PPH.
The drug costs less than $3, which makes it a truly cost-effective lifesaver. There seems to be no major side-effects, and doctors and midwives can administer other drugs at the same time without complications occurring.