An estimated 7,000 women die in Kenya every year from pregnancy-related complications. Between 20 and 30 per cent of these deaths are due to excessive bleeding.
Doctors have since 2006 been lobbying to have the government license the drug known as Misoprostol which they say is 95 per cent effective in stopping the bleeding and which they want distributed in all public hospitals and rural dispensaries.
While the drug is registered for the treatment of ulcers and as a painkiller in combination with other drugs, the government has been reluctant to license it for gynaecological use because some women have used it to terminate pregnancies.
But a study by doctors indicates that 97 per cent of all women use the Misoprostol pill for the right purpose with only a fraction misusing it to induce illicit abortions.
The pill is also said to be cheaper in dealing with postpartum bleeding than the injections which currently are used. The government should not blind itself to the fact the lives of thousands of new mothers could be saved if the pill was used for properly for gynaecological treatment.
That must be the guiding factor when considering the pill’s registration.