Markets matter: Improving access to livesaving maternal health products

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No matter where they live, women should be able to safely deliver healthy babies. However, pregnant women in low-and middle-income countries have inadequate access to lifesaving maternal health products, resulting in preventable deaths due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. The leading causes of maternal mortality globally are severe bleeding following delivery (postpartum hemorrhage or PPH) and high blood pressure and seizures during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia). Oxytocin and misoprostol prevent and treat PPH, and magnesium sulfate prevents and treats pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. In 2012, the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities (UNCoLSC) endorsed these three health products as essential and noted that if widely accessible and properly used, they could save many women’s lives.