Background Postpartum heammorrhage (PPH), defined as blood loss greater than or equal to 500 ml within 24 hours after birth, is the leading cause of maternal deaths globally and in India. Misoprostol is an important option for PPH management in setting where oxytocin (the gold standard for PPH prevention and treatment) in not available or not feasible to use. For the substantial number of deliveries which take place at home or at lower level heatlh facilities in India, misoprostol pills can be adminstered to prevent PPH. The standard approach using misoprostol is to administer it prophylactically as primary prevention (600 mcg). An alternative strategy could be to administer misoprostol only to those who are at high risk of having PPH i.e. as secondary prevention. Methods This study reports on the relative cost per person of a strategy involving primary versus secondary prevention of PPH using misoprostol. It is based on a randomized cluster trial that was conducted in Bijapur district in Karnataka, India between December 2011 and March 2014 among pregnant women to compare two community-level strategies for the prevention of PPH: primary and secondary. The analysis was conducted from the government perspective using an ingredient approach. Results The cluster trial showed that there were no significant differences in clinical outcomes between the two study arms. However, the results of the cost analysis show that there is a difference of INR 6 (US$ 0.1) per birth for implementing the strategies primary versus secondary prevention. In India where 14.9 million births take place at sub-centres and at home, this additional cost of INR 6 per birth translates to an additional cost of INR 94 (US$ 1.6) million to the government to implement the primary prevention compared to the secondary prevention strategy. Conclusion As clinical outcomes did not differ significantly between the two arms in the trial, taking into account the difference in costs and potential issues with sustainability, secondary prevention might be a more strategic option.
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