Medicines for Moms and Babies

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Djélika Doumbia and son, Boubacar
Sékou Toure/GHSC-PSM

Djélika Doumbia remembers how frightening it was to rush her newborn, Karim, to the hospital shortly after bringing him home because he had an umbilical cord infection. While waiting anxiously at the hospital, a health worker explained that using shea butter on the cord stump, a common practice in Mali, could have caused the infection. Health experts recommend using chlorhexidine gel as a disinfectant for cord care. Based on this advice and improved access to chlorhexidine, Djélika was able to keep her second son, Boubacar, safe from infection.

Lives are saved by increasing the availability of key commodities that address leading causes of maternal and child mortality including postpartum hemorrhage, hypertension, eclampsia and severe infection in infants. USAID Global Health Supply Chain-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) works with national ministries of health around the globe to do just this.

The Malian Ministry of Health (MOH) has committed to keeping moms and babies safe by dedicating funds for the first time to procure and distribute three lifesaving maternal, newborn and child health commodities: oxytocin, magnesium sulfate, and chlorhexidine. Oxytocin and magnesium sulfate help with safer childbirth and chlorhexidine is used for newborn umbilical cord care. The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children identified these three treatments (in addition to 10 others) as “best buys” for countries because they are considered to be the most efficacious and cost-effective for women and children’s health issues.

In partnership with USAID, Mali’s Pharmacy and Medicine Directorate and the national People’s Pharmacy of Mali have enhanced their data systems and built staff capacity to quantify and forecast the national need for these commodities. As a result, health stakeholders are better able to advocate with reliable data for financing to ensure that these commodities are widely available. Based on the success of the program, the Malian government is funding oxytocin, magnesium sulfate, and chlorhexidine, eliminating the need for USAID to procure and distribute them. Funding previously used by USAID for these commodities is now being invested elsewhere to further strengthen Mali’s public health supply chain.

Enhancing Mali’s public health supply chain is critical to ensuring mothers like Djélika have access to chlorhexidine and other commodities for safe childbirth and newborn care. As of early 2021 health facilities in Mali reported significant increases in average availability over the previous six months: 99.5% of facilities reported availability of oxytocin; 73.7% of facilities reported availability of magnesium sulfate; and 97.7% of facilities reported availability of chlorhexidine. Sustainable national financing of these essential commodities and better supply planning mean that these rates can be maintained and improved over time.

USAID is continuing to strengthen health commodity systems in Mali through GHSC-PSM including procurement of other lifesaving medicines and supplies; capacity building and coordination on forecasting; health and logistics data system improvements for better decision making; and COVID-19 response and recovery. These are just some of the many ways USAID supports Malians to identify the most effective solutions to meet their own health needs.

In the words of MOH Reproductive Health Commodity Logistics Officer Dr. Kassoumou Diarra: "Every year, tens of thousands of children and infants die from infections, diarrhea, malaria and other diseases. Likewise, thousands of women die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. These deaths could be avoided if the right medicines were available, prescribed and used correctly. We will never stop thanking the American people for all these lives saved and this precious help to the Malian government.”

Last updated: September 21, 2021

Share This Page