Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady, on Tuesday called for intensified education on pre-eclampsia and other conditions that lead to unacceptable deaths among pregnant women.
She said an increased awareness and action on Pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy related complication, would ensure that the issues on the condition were widely made known among the citizens as a critical topical health concern.
Mrs Akufo-Addo was speaking at the launch of World Pre-eclampsia Day held at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, on the theme: “Be prepared before lightning strikes”!
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to organs, most often the liver and kidneys.
The complication usually set in after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women, whose blood pressure had previously been normal and symptoms include; stomach pain, nausea or throwing up, swelling in hands or face, severe headaches, seeing spots or other vision changes and shortness of breath in pregnant women.
Preeclampsia, however, sometimes develops without any symptoms.
If left untreated, preeclampsia could lead to serious and even fatal complications for both the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
Expressing concern about the condition, Mrs Akufo-Addo indicated that in the Greater Accra and Central Regions of Ghana, Preeclampsia was the leading cause of maternal deaths.
Globally, “830 women die from pregnancy and childbirths related causes each day while preeclampsia and eclampsia were the second cause of deaths after post-delivery bleeding in pregnant women.
The First Lady expressed worry that while these deaths were preventable, yet essential medicines and tools to treat the condition were often unavailable in Ghana.
She said health expert had indicated that a woman was at a higher risk, if she had a personal or family history of pre-eclampsia or had chronic hypertension, adding that the risk was also higher with a first pregnancy or if a woman was pregnant with her second or third child with a new partner.
“An obese woman, a woman carrying two or more foetuses, or carrying an in -vitro pregnancy, also had a higher risk of getting pre-eclampsia,” she mentioned.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said the day placed a duty on all to intensify efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, by critically addressing both preeclampsia and eclampsia.
She said it was critical that resources, including essential medicines to prevent and treat the condition were increased while knowledge about symptoms, prevention and treatment were intensified to help save the lives of mothers.
She advised pregnant women to consistently seek ante-natal care and entreated health workers, to intensify the education on pre-eclampsia and other conditions that lead to the current unacceptable rate of maternal deaths in Ghana.
Dr Emmanuel Srofenyo, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, said pre-eclampsia was the leading condition and cause of sickness and death of women in the Hospital and the country at large and out of the eight thousand deliveries conducted at the hospital annually, more than a 1,000 suffer preeclampsia.
He said statistics in the hospital indicated that over the past ten years, the prevalence rate for pre-eclampsia stood at 11 per cent on average with a case fatality of about one per cent.
Dr Srofenyo said such statistics underlined the seriousness of the condition and the need to adopt a concerted approach at combating pre-eclampsia at all level of the health delivery spectrum.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, Country Director of UNFPA, expressed the commitment of the organisation towards helping Ghana end preventable maternal deaths, to ensure that everything that would jeopardise the health of pregnant women and her unborn baby was done away with.
He saluted health care professionals who were in the forefront of the health care system, caring for pregnant women, and urged them to continue to give accurate information on the condition to women.
Oheneyere Gifty Anti, a gender Advocate and TV Talk show host, advised pregnant women to look out for any changes in their bodies and also seek answers from reliable sources about any issues they had concerning their pregnancies.
To help build awareness of pre-eclampsia outside the United States, the Preeclampsia Foundation partnered other like-minded organisations to sponsor the first-ever World Pre-eclampsia Day on May 22, 2017.
There is currently a multiple global advocacy involving professional and health organisations in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway among many others underway to create awareness that would help prevent or reduce preeclampsia among pregnant women around the world.