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Priority medicines for babies and childbirth

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011

Simple treatments such as zinc, rehydration therapy and oxytocin for childbirth must be available in all countries to save the lives of children and their mothers, global experts said yesterday.

Some 30 medicines are on a "priority list" issued for the first time by the World Health Organisation.

Pregnant women need access to drugs to tackle infection, high blood pressure and sexually transmitted infections and prevent lethal haemorrhages, WHO says.

Antibiotics are needed to save young children from pneumonia - which kills about 1.5 million a year.

Oral rehydration salts are available in fewer than half of outlets in Africa and zinc in fewer places - in spite of being cheap ways of preventing death from diarrhoea, the WHO says.

And too many medicines are not distributed in child-friendly forms, meaning they do not get taken properly, it says.

The list includes some five medicines that currently do not exist - but need to be produced to treat children with TB, WHO says.

Dr Hans Hogerzeil, of WHO, said: "Medicines produced in liquid form are more expensive than tablets or powders and are also more difficult to store, package, and transport, due to their bulk, weight and need for refrigeration.

"The list we have drawn up tells manufacturers exactly what they should be producing to meet countries needs."

Tags: Africa | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Gastroenterology | Pharmaceuticals | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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