Every year over 287,000 girls and women* die from pregnancy and childbirth related complications. According to the World Health Organization, 99% of these mothers live in developing countries and most of the complications are preventable. A lot still needs to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goal number 5 aiming to improve maternal health and to reduce maternal mortality. Dr. Suellen Miller and her team at the Safe Motherhood Program at University of California have developed a first-aid device that saves thousands of women’s lives: the LifeWrap.
Obstetric hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death: Women bleed to death before they receive the treatment they need. Especially where skilled stuff, transfusions and surgery are miles away, complications often result in organ failure and death. In these settings, nurses have almost no means of coping with hemorrhage. This could change with the LifeWrap: In appearance similar to a neoprene wetsuit, the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) is wrapped around the legs and body of the mother, returning blood back into the vital organs. In this way, the LifeWrap helps women to regain consciousness; it accelerates recovery times from shock and reduces blood loss, stabilizing mothers suffering from hemorrhage so that they can be transported to the next hospital.
The LifeWrap has been applied in several countries including Egypt, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Several studies already proved the efficiency of the device: it significantly reduces mortality, especially for women in more severe shock. The LifeWrap and other appropriate technological solutions do their part in providing hope that the Millennium Development Goal 5 can still be achieved by 2015.
Watch this video on the LifeWrap in Zambia and see how it actually saves lives:
*Source: World Health Organization (WHO)