Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Putting the priorities first: medicines for maternal and child health

Suzanne R Hill

Volume 90, Number 3, March 2012, 236-238

Table 1. Priority medicines for mothers and children

Indication Medicine
For mothers
Postpartum haemorrhage:
   treatment Oxytocin: 10 IU in 1-ml ampoule
Sodium chloride: injectable solution 0.9% isotonic or Sodium lactate compound solution – injectable (Ringer’s lactate)
   prevention Misoprostol: tablet 200 μg
Severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia Magnesium sulfate: injection 500 mg/ml in a 2-ml ampoule, 500 mg/ml in a 10-ml ampoule
Calcium gluconate injection (for treatment of magnesium toxicity): 100 mg/ml in a 10-ml ampoule
Maternal sepsis:
   treatment of infection due to sepsis Ampicillin: powder for injection 500 mg; 1 g (as a sodium salt) in vial
Gentamicin: injection 10 mg; 40 mg/ml in a 2-ml vial
Metronidazole: injection 500 mg in a 100-ml vial
   treatment incomplete miscarriage Misoprostol: tablet 200 μg
Chlamydia Azithromycin: capsule 250 mg; 500 mg or oral liquid 200 mg/5 ml
Gonorrhoea Cefixime: capsule 400 mg
Syphilis Benzathine benzylpenicillin: powder for injection 900 mg benzylpenicillin in a 5-ml vial; 1.44 g benzylpenicillin in a 5-ml vial
Prevention of early labour Betamethasone: injection 5.7 mg/ml as betamethasone sodium phosphate 3.9 mg (in solution) or betamethasone acetate 3 mg (in suspension) in an aqueous vehicle or Dexamethasone – injection 4 mg dexamethasone phosphate (as disodium salt) in 1-ml ampoule
Nifedipine: immediate release capsule 10 mg
For children aged less than 5 years
Pneumonia Amoxicillin: dispersible, scored tablets 250 mg and 500 mg or equivalent flexible oral solid dosage form, in blister packs of 10
Ampicillin: powder for injection 500 mg and 1 g
Ceftriaxone: powder for injection 250 mg and 1 g
Gentamicin: injection 20 mg/ml
Procaine benzylpenicillin: powder for injection 1 g and 3 g
Oxygen: medicinal gas
Diarrhoea Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS): sachets of 200 ml; 500 ml and 1 litre, appropriate flavour
Zinc: 20 mg scored dispersible tablet or equivalent flexible oral solid dosage form
Malaria Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT): strengths and combinations according to WHO treatment guidelines 2010, dispersible tablet or flexible oral solid dosage form and dose-optimized
Artesunate: rectal and injection dosage forms 50–200 mg
Neonatal sepsis Ceftriaxone: powder for injection 250 mg and 1 g
Gentamicin: injection 20 mg/ml
Procaine benzylpenicillin: powder for injection 1 g and 3 g
Standard regimen for first-line antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS 1 non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor plus 2 nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (such as the fixed-dose combination of lamivudine + nevirapine + zidovudine)
Measles/vitamin A deficiency Vitamin A: capsule 100 000 IU strength; 200 000 IU strength
Palliative care and pain Paracetamol: variable flexible oral solid dosage forms
Palliative care and pain Morphine: granules 20 mg, 30 mg, 60 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, injection 10 mg/ml, oral liquid 10 mg/5 ml, variable flexible oral solid dosage forms