The MHTF Quarterly highlights critical issues in the maternal health field.
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Issue 8 Contents


MHTF Quarterly, Issue 8: Postpartum Hemorrhage and Pre-eclampsia/Eclampsia


The Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) Quarterly shares resources, research, and news about key maternal health topics. This quarter, we are highlighting postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, two major causes of global maternal mortality and morbidity.

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is commonly defined as an abnormal amount of blood loss from the genital tract after delivery. PPH is the leading cause of maternal mortality in low-income countries and is the primary determinant of nearly one-quarter of maternal deaths globally. Most maternal deaths due to hemorrhage occur within 24 hours after delivery. In addition to mortality, PPH is a source of substantial maternal morbidity and can have long-term adverse effects on a woman’s health, including renal failure, anemia, and poor psychosocial wellbeing. The majority of PPH cases are entirely preventable through appropriate management and treatment, including the prophylactic use of uterotonics and the Active Management of Third Stage of Labor (AMSTL)

Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are also leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality, with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia (PE/E) accounting for the greatest disease burden. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pre-eclampsia as the “onset of a new episode of persistent hypertension during pregnancy.” In general, this onset occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and may involve damage to the kidneys or other organs. Eclampsia is the result of untreated pre-eclampsia and is characterized by generalized seizures, in addition to continued pre-eclampsia symptoms. Similar to PPH, deaths due to PE/E are entirely preventable with timely and effective care, including the administration of antihypertensives and magnesium sulfate to pregnant women with severe hypertension and eventual delivery of the newborn.

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Featured Resource

Obstetric Emergency Drills Training Kit
Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy & Maternal Health Task Force | 2016

The Obstetric Emergency Drills Training Kit was developed by Argentina’s Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy (IECS) and the MHTF as part of a research and training project.

Postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia are the most common causes of maternal mortality globally. If a woman suffers one of these obstetric emergencies, it is crucial that she receives appropriate and timely treatment. However, because of the infrequency of these cases, health care providers have few opportunities to practice, maintain, and grow their skills in managing postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia.

Obstetric emergency drills, which simulate obstetric emergencies in medical facilities, allow midwives, nurses, and physicians to develop and maintain competencies, practice executing evidence-based methods, and develop effective teamwork strategies to safely manage obstetric complications when they occur.

The following resources are available free of charge for use anywhere in the world. We hope that, when used together, these resources will serve as invaluable tools for clinicians seeking ways to prepare for and respond to obstetric emergencies:

Use the Obstetric Emergency Drills Trainer’s Manual to promote and practice team preparedness for obstetric emergencies. The manual outlines the steps necessary to run obstetric emergency drills on any obstetrics unit.

Use the PowerPoint slides to present the purpose and process of running obstetric emergency drills to hospital or delivery ward administrators and other stakeholders. Please see the manual for more instruction on how and when to use this presentation.

This short video demonstrates obstetric emergency drills in action in Ethiopia and India and summarizes both the purpose and process of running a drill exercise.

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Key Publications

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Featured Blog Posts

We have rounded up several of the most-read blogs about postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia from the MHTF’s archive:  Read more MHTF blogs on PPH and PE/E.

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World Health Organization Recommendations

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Online Training Courses

The Oxford Maternal & Perinatal Health Institute (OMPHI) and the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research (GFMER) have been collaborating since 2010 to develop e-learning materials in the field of maternal and perinatal health. They have created two widely-accessed online modules focused on evidence-based management of postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia:   Back to Top

Additional Resources

Visit the MHTF’s Resource Library for more articles, videos, and blog posts on postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia.

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Follow the MHTF

Stay up-to-date on the latest maternal health news, research, and opportunities by following the Maternal Health Task Force on Twitter and Facebook and subscribing to the MH Buzz.  

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Contact Us

MHTF is always looking for new resources, research, perspectives, and news. We welcome your feedback as well as any resources you would like to share with the maternal health community. Please contact us at

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Copyright © 2016 Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, All rights reserved.

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