Cambridge Design Partnership has announced the development of a new novel uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) to control postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in low-resource settings in developing countries.

The UBT is designed to tackle life-threatening situations experienced by women after childbirth.

PPH is a condition of severe bleeding that occurs within 24 hours of childbirth, which is also one of the leading causes of maternal mortality across developing parts of the world.

According to Cambridge, if the right equipment is used at the right time to control PPH, many lives can be saved.

"The UBT is designed to tackle life-threatening situations experienced by women after childbirth."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) included UBT as a treatment for PPH in its 2012 recommendations. However, each commercially available UBT could cost up to $200, making it less accessible to people.

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Condom catheter is also used as an alternative to UBT, but placement of the device has to be done carefully by skilled professionals.

Developed to narrow the gap between condom catheters and $200 UBTs, the new device has a novel intuitive design and is safe to be used even by less experienced healthcare workers.

Cambridge Design Partnership human centred design specialist Lucy Sheldon said: "To be effective in low resource settings, medical products such as UBTs must be affordable and available; optimised for the intended conditions of distribution, storage, and use.

"To meet these needs, we applied a human centred approach to the innovation process, combining expertise in human factors, risk management and interaction design, to the development of our device.

"Our aim was to maximise usability in the hands of minimally trained birth assistants and lower the overall costs of the intervention through reducing the medical professionals, equipment and training required to safely and effectively use the device, to ultimately save lives."

Image: Sub-Saharan African countries are said to carry the highest risks in terms of maternal and infant mortality and health. Photo: courtesy of Steve Evans.