The Ballarat woman leading the fight against childbirth deaths in developing countries says International Women’s Day should be about equality and empowerment for all women.
Michelle Mcintosh will speak today at the annual International Women’s Day breakfast at Loreto College, after returning from a recent study trip to Africa.
Dr McIntosh, who attended St Thomas More Primary School and Loreto College, said her team at Monash University was nearing the clinical trial stage for their formulation of oxytocin, suitable to be inhaled after childbirth.
Oxytocin is widely used to rapidly induce a contraction of the uterine muscle after birth, preventing potentially fatal excessive bleeding.
Dr McIntosh said developing oxytocin for aerosol delivery would remove the need for refrigerated storage and allowed women to inhale the drug immediately after childbirth, removing barriers in developing countries.
“About 250,000 women die every year from complications arising from childbirth and between a third and half of those are related to excessive bleeding, or postpartum haemorrhage,” she said.
“The significance of International Women’s Day, for me, is about the plight of women in developing countries,” she said.
“In the countries I’ve visited, quite often it’s the men who make decisions as to whether it’s okay to go to the doctor.”
“What we need to do is make solutions accessible and provide education to women so they can make a decision about their own healthcare.”
Last year, Dr McIntosh and her team secured a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
To support the project, visit http://monash.edu/giving/appeals.html.