According to an article published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, maternal mortality had been a major challenge in many settings with more than 99% of global maternal deaths still occurring in low-resource countries. Bangladesh which had been one of the few countries to achieve the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in time, faced the same challenge owing to Postpartum Haemorrhage (PPH)
In the context of such medical crisis, the name of Dr. Sayeba Akhter rings like a boon in the medical world. Her one innovative idea saved the lives of many new mothers from the fatal consequence of PPH making childbirth a lot safer than ever.
Former chair of Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s (DMCH) Gynaecology and Obstetrics Department, Dr. Sayeba took into account the cases of death from excessive post-delivery bleeding. Sayeba narrates, as quoted from the Bangla Tribune interview: “One day, two women died right in front of me from bleeding out after giving birth. Then I thought about all the children in the village who played with balloons, and I started wondering if I could stop the bleeding by inserting balloons filled with water inside the uterus. The first step to stop bleeding is to apply pressure on the uterus. But it’s impossible to apply pressure during bleeding.
The very next day, I went to the hospital and saw that doctors were forced to cut out a woman’s uterus to prevent bleeding. I stopped them and told them to not cut the uterus out just yet. I asked for some time, because the primary way to stop bleeding is to apply pressure. If I could somehow apply pressure to the uterus, I could stop the bleeding. That was the first time I used the ‘condom catheter tamponade’, and the bleeding stopped within 10 minutes.”
Following her discovery, Dr. Sayeba applied the procedure to 23 other women, who have recovered and were able to return home without any further post-delivery complication.
Sayeba’s life-saving revolutionary condom catheter tamponade is made of a catheter, condom, some string, saline set and saline solution all costing for only Taka 100. The innovation was published in 2003 in the international journal Medscape Medical Journal, titled “Use of condom in the control of massive postpartum hemorrhage”, also as a research paper in the International Gyne and Obs journal, and as an article in the British Medical Journal Review.
However, the innovative method has been wrongly attributed to a midwife in Kenya by a BBC News segment recently, though the experts have called it “a gross mistake by the media”. Known worldwide as ‘Sayeba’s method,’ it has been used in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Canada as well from the time of its discovery. Dr. Sayeba Akhter is currently in Indonesia, providing training at an international seminar on the method named after her.
Defined as the loss of more than 500ml following the vaginal delivery or 1000ml of blood following caesarean section in the first 24 hours following delivery, PPH is marked the leading cause of death during pregnancy globally causing 44,000 to 86,000 deaths per year.
It is sad and discouraging when the pioneers don’t get the rightful amenities or at least the recognition for their due contributions. It’s high time Dr. Sayeba’s TTC gets rightly patented and receives proper recognition.