Uterine Balloon Tamponade
UBTs are a medical device for the treatment of post-partum hemorrhage, the largest direct cause of maternal mortality worldwide. UNICEF is working to make these life-saving devices available to save mothers’ lives.
Post-partum hemorrhage – severe bleeding in childbirth – is the largest direct cause of maternal mortality globally, taking the lives of 130,000 women every year.
Many of these deaths can be prevented with commercially available products and interventions. However, these are often not accessible in low- and middle-income countries, where 99 per cent of these deaths occur.
The Uterine Balloon Tamponade (UBT) is one such device. Used as part of a series of treatment options, it is inserted inside the uterus by a trained health care provider and inflated to compress blood vessels to stop the hemorrhaging and stabilize the woman.
The devices are proven to save lives, reduce the need for surgical interventions and blood transfusions and prevent unnecessary hysterectomies and disabilities in women.
In April 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended UBTs for the treatment of post-partum hemorrhage. However, they are still widely unavailable in many countries, with most commercial devices prohibitively expensive, ranging from $US125 to $350 for one-time use.
An estimated 130,000 mothers lose their lives from post-partum hemorrhage every year, which remains the largest direct cause of maternal mortality.
A newborn whose mother dies in childbirth is 46 times more likely die within their first month of life.
UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire found a 95 per cent success rate in UBTs stopping post-partum hemorrhage.
UNICEF is now working with UNFPA to increase access to medical UBT devices. This includes introducing a medical UBT into the UNICEF and UNFPA Supply Catalogues and creating inter-agency technical materials, such as training guides and job aids, to support sustainable integration into health programmes.
Both agencies are also working together to develop joint technical specifications to assess UBTs with the aim of making a range of appropriate devices available, including low-cost options, to suit different country contexts.
“It's a perfect [device] that handles bleeding well and is easy to install. At the end of 24 hours after its installation, unless there are other complications, the life of the patient is saved.”
Through increased access to UBTs, UNICEF can save mothers’ lives and lower maternal mortality rates, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing.
Greater access to UBTs will help prevent unnecessary disability and hysterectomies in women who suffer post-partum hemorrhage in childbirth.
UNICEF will also be able to ensure more newborns grow up with their mother, providing the best start in life and reducing neonatal mortality rates.
Case study: Local innovation leading the way
Côte d'Ivoire: After giving birth to twins, Fatoumata (pictured left) suffered post-partum hemorrhage. She was rapidly losing blood and fast intervention was essential to save her life.
Health workers were able to stop the bleeding using a UBT kit. The device was available thanks to a UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire programme which introduced improvised UBTs to 96 per cent of referral hospitals in the country.
Initially the UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire Country Office reached out to Supply Division to procure the product. However, UBTs were not available in the Catalogue at this time, so they procured a low-cost version locally, which includes a catheter and a condom.
UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire found a 95 per cent success rate in UBTs stopping post-partum hemorrhage. The innovative product has now been scaled nationally to save women’s lives and ensure newborns have the best start in life.
Now UNICEF Supply Division is working to introduce medical UBTs into the Supply Catalogue. If scaled it could save thousands of lives and lower maternal mortality rates.