BACKGROUND: Oxytocin is the gold standard drug for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage, but limitations in cold chain systems in resource-constrained settings can severely compromise the quality of oxytocin product available in these environments. This study investigated the perspectives and practices of stakeholders in low and lower-middle income countries towards oxytocin, its storage requirements and associated barriers, and the quality of product available. METHODS: Qualitative inquiries were undertaken in Ethiopia, India and Myanmar, where data was collected through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and In-Depth Interviews (IDIs). A total of 12 FGDs and 106 IDIs were conducted with 158 healthcare providers (pharmacists, midwives, nurses, doctors and obstetricians) and 40 key informants (supply chain experts, program managers and policy-makers). Direct observations of oxytocin storage practices and cold chain resources were conducted at 51 healthcare facilities. Verbatim transcripts of FGDs and IDIs were translated to English and analysed according to a thematic content analysis framework. FINDINGS: Stakeholder awareness of oxytocin heat sensitivity and the requirement for cold storage of the drug was widespread in Ethiopia but more limited in Myanmar and India. A consistent finding across all study regions was the significant barriers to maintaining a consistent cold chain, with the lack of refrigeration facilities and unreliability of electricity cited as major challenges. Perceptions of compromised oxytocin quality were expressed by some stakeholders in each country. CONCLUSION: Knowledge of the heat sensitivity of oxytocin and the potential impacts of inconsistent cold storage on product quality is not widespread amongst healthcare providers, policy makers and supply chain experts in Myanmar, Ethiopia and India. Targeted training and advocacy messages are warranted to emphasise the importance of cold storage to maintain oxytocin quality.
Link to publisher’s web site