Health, News

“Let us pay more attention to pre-eclampsia in pregnant women” – First Lady

The First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for increased awareness and action towards making Pre-eclampsia a topical health issue that requires critical attention.

Startling figures revealed by the First Lady have shown that in some regions in Ghana, notably Greater Accra and Central, Pre-Eclampsia is the leading cause of maternal deaths.

According to her, globally, 830 women die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes each day, and with Pre-eclampsia coming close second to post-delivery bleeding, the trend is not soothing to the ear.

The First Lady was speaking at the launch of the World Pre-eclampsia Day, on the theme, “Pre-eclampsia be Prepared before Lightning Strikes” at the Ridge Hospital in Accra.

First Lady (middle), and the other distinguished guests

Mrs. Akufo-Addo therefore, bemoaned the reason, according to experts, that while these deaths are preventable, essential medicines and tools to treat this disorder are often unavailable in our context.

She explained what this deadly yet silent killer is based on expert counsel. “Pre–eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to organs, mostly the liver and kidneys,” the First Lady noted.

Some health personnel and other participants

“Pre-eclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women, whose blood pressure had previously been normal,” she stated.

“For the purposes of illustration, let’s say a woman, Yaa Mansa, has the condition during pregnancy. Yaa whose blood pressure had been previously normal, will exhibit pregnancy induced high blood pressure.

A test will show protein in her urine and she will have swollen feet that depress when pressure is applied. According to the professionals, this may imply that Yaa’s liver and kidneys may be affected.

Yaa Mansa’s Pre-eclampsia would normally begin in the second half of pregnancy after 20 weeks.

For a woman like Yaa with no previous hypertension, even a slight rise in blood pressure may be a sign of pre-eclampsia.” She explained thoroughly.

Other health workers at the function

Mrs. Akufo-Addo stressed that other symptoms may include nausea or vomiting, decreased urine output and shortness of breath, caused by fluid in the lungs, as well as severe headaches, changes in vision and upper abdominal pain, usually under the ribs on the right side.

She was, however, quick to add that pre-eclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms.

Touching on the risk factors involved, the First Lady said a woman is at a higher risk if she has a personal or family history of pre-eclampsia or has chronic hypertension and that the risk is also higher with a first pregnancy or if a woman is pregnant with her second or third child with a new partner.

Mrs. Akufo-Addo inside a ward

“An obese woman, a woman carrying two or more fetuses, or carrying an in-vitro pregnancy, also has a higher risk of getting pre-eclampsia”. She mentioned.

She assured that explaining the risk factors was not to frighten anyone but to ensure that women are equipped with knowledge in order to take the necessary steps to stay well and alive.

First Lady (third- right), and other distinguished guests in a group photo

Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who is also the founder and Head of the Rebecca Foundation, advised pregnant mothers to consistently seek ante-natal care, and urged  health workers to intensify the education on pre-eclampsia and other conditions that lead to the current unacceptable rate of maternal deaths in Ghana.

By Dorinda Owusu|

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