Medicines Mothers Can Rely On

Sub Title
Mali’s health supply chain delivers critical commodities for moms and babies
Related Global Health Areas
September 13, 2021
Lead Paragraph/Summary

Djélika Doumbia remembers how frightening it was to rush her newborn son, Karim, to the hospital shortly after bringing him home. 

He had fallen very ill due to an umbilical cord infection. While waiting anxiously at the hospital, a health worker explained that using shea butter on the cord stump could have caused the infection. Global health experts recommend using chlorhexidine gel as a simply administered disinfectant for cord care. With reliable health services and access to chlorhexidine, this mom kept her second son, Boubacar, safe from infection.

"During my recent pregnancy with Boubacar, I took advantage of prenatal visits and care. The pregnancy and delivery went well, and a midwife ensured I had access to chlorhexidine gel once he was born. She taught me how to apply the gel and after only three days my baby's cord healed quickly with no sign of infection like his brother's. I recommend it for all babies!"

Public health systems in many countries face the challenge of ensuring medicines and supplies required for the health and safety of all mothers and their children are adequately available, especially for childbirth and newborn care. However, by increasing availability of certain health commodities to address leading causes of maternal and child mortality—including postpartum hemorrhage, hypertension, and eclampsia around childbirth and severe infection in infants—health programs can save mothers’ and children’s lives. USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project works with national ministries of health around the globe to do just this.

stylized text: according to 2017 data from UNICEF, Mali's maternal mortality ratio (i.e., childbirth-related mortality) was one of the highest in the world with approximately 562 deaths per 100,000 live births.
stylized text: according to 2017 data from UNICEF, Mali's maternal mortality ratio (i.e., childbirth-related mortality) was one of the highest in the world with approximately 562 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Body Text

In Djélika’s country, the Malian Ministry of Health (MOH) has committed to keeping its moms and babies safe by recently earmarking funds—for the first time—to procure and distribute three lifesaving maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) commodities: oxytocin, magnesium sulfate, and chlorhexidine. Oxytocin and magnesium sulfate help with safer childbirth and chlorhexidine supports better newborn umbilical cord care. The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children identified these three commodities (in addition to 10 others) as priority commodities for countries to procure because they are “best buys,” or considered to be the most efficacious and cost-effective for managing the health issues women and children face.

Through close work with the USAID GHSC-PSM project, Mali’s Pharmacy and Medicine Directorate (DPM) and National Pharmacy (PPM) enhanced their data systems, built staff capacity, and underwent workshops to accurately quantify and forecast the national need for these commodities. As a result, the USAID GHSC-PSM project, DPM, and PPM could advocate—using reliable data to back their case—for the needed financing to ensure these commodities are available to mothers and their children across the country. The MOH has since agreed to finance these commodities, eliminating the need for USAID assistance to procure and distribute oxytocin, magnesium sulfate, and chlorhexidine. The funds previously donated by USAID for these commodities are now being invested elsewhere, to further strengthen Mali’s public health supply chain. 

Enhancing Mali’s public health supply chain is critical to ensuring mothers like Djélika have access to chlorhexidine and other commodities for safe childbirth and newborn care. To date, the USAID GHSC-PSM project’s support to the government of Mali has increased availability of oxytocin, magnesium sulfate, and chlorhexidine at service delivery points such as the hospital where Djélika sought care.


Health facilities in Mali report their product availability rates through the nationwide medical supply stock tracking system. Using this data, the project calculated average availability over a six-month period across the health facilities (accurate as of March 2021):

  • 99.5% of facilities reported availability of oxytocin
  • 73.7% of facilities reported availability of magnesium sulfate
  • 97.7% of facilities reported availability of chlorhexidine

With proper supply planning, these rates can be maintained and improved. The USAID GHSC-PSM project in Mali will continue to support systems strengthening efforts in partnership with the MOH, DPM, and PPM, including procurement of other lifesaving commodities; capacity building and coordination for local working groups that conduct forecasting for health commodities; health and logistics data system improvements to enhance data-informed decision making; and COVID-19 response and recovery. The project conducts all of these activities with sustainability and cost efficiency in mind, supporting the government of Mali to identify the most effective solutions to meet its own needs and the needs of women and children.

One of the USAID GHSC-PSM project’s MOH partners, Reproductive Health Commodity Logistics Officer Dr. Kassoumou Diarra, shared the critical nature of Mali’s move to free up funds for essential MNCH commodities:

"Every year, tens of thousands of children and infants die from infections, diarrhea, malaria and other diseases. Likewise, thousands of women die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. These deaths could be avoided if the right medicines were available, prescribed and used correctly. We will never stop thanking USAID for all these lives saved and this precious help to the Malian government."

For more information on how USAID’s GHSC-PSM project and the Mali MOH have partnered to improve availability of critical MNCH supplies, view a recent brief on the topic.