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Health News Mon, 21 Mar 2011

WHO announces essential drugs to treat maternal and child health problems

Accra, March 21, GNA - The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday released a list of about 30 medicines, which are essential for treating common diseases of mothers and children. The medicines used for maternal and child health-related problems was complied by experts in maternal and child health and medicines who analysed the WHO list of essential medicines to know which medicines would save lives most.

The WHO essential list medicines is made up of drugs that serve as a guide for the development of national and institutional essential medicine that can be used as the basis for procurement and supply of medicines and guide local medicine production. Dr Suzanne Hill, Clinical Pharmacologist in charge of Medicines Access and Rational use at WHO, at a press conference in Accra to launch the use and availability of the medicines, said an estimated 8.1 million children under-five died every year and an estimated 1,000 women, mostly in developing countries, died everyday due to complications during pregnancy and child birth. She said a vast majority of these deaths could be prevented or treated with simple and affordable medicines. However, the availability of medicines at public-health facilities is often poor.

She said: 93Access to essential medicine is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on Maternal deaths." Dr Hill added that the medicines were effective for treating diseases and should be made available in all health systems. Haemorrhage or severe bleeding is the leading cause of maternal deaths and can kill a healthy woman within two hours of giving birth. An injection of oxytocin immediately after delivery could stop the bleeding and could make the difference between life and death, she added. Dr Hill said other medicines on the list for mothers included drugs to treat infection, high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases as well as preterm birth, maternal HIV/AIDS and malaria. The priority medicines for children under five years are for pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal sepsis, HIV, Vitamin A deficiency and palliative case and pain. The priority medicines required for child health a survival, but for which further research and development is needed are for tuberculosis, HIV, TB prophylaxis, pneumonia, neonatal care and Vitamin K deficiency.

The WHO is also recommending that medicines for children should be provided in doses that are easy to measure and easy for children to take.

Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, Director of Pharmaceutical Services and Chief Pharmacist in Ghana, said Ghana adopted the WHO essential medicines in 1998. She said there were policies in place to ensure that the drugs were available for use when needed.

Source: GNA