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GHS, WHO seek increased awareness of maternal mental health conditions

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The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders to intensify awareness creation campaigns to combat the alarming prevalence of maternal mental health conditions in rural areas.

The campaigns aim to shed light on the critical impact of perinatal depression on maternal, newborn, and child outcomes, as well as its long-term consequences on growth and cognitive development.

At a recent stakeholder engagement event held in Bolgatanga, Dr. Promise E. Sefogah, the Project Consultant to WHO, highlighted the concerning statistics uncovered by research publications over the past two decades.

Perinatal depression, with a staggering prevalence rate of up to 50.1%, was identified as a pervasive issue among pregnant and postpartum women. Additionally, suicidal ideation rates ranging from 13% to 17% added urgency to the need for intervention.

Dr. Sefogah emphasized the contributing factors behind the high prevalence, citing the absence of routine antenatal and postnatal screening, insufficient access to maternal mental health services, and limited capacity among healthcare workers for detection and management.

The lack of treatment and referral protocols, coupled with low formal healthcare-seeking behaviors among affected women due to awareness gaps and stigma, further exacerbated the crisis, he added.

The Project Consultant went on to reveal that postpartum depression was strongly associated with pregnancy complications and adverse obstetric outcomes. Disturbingly, children born to affected mothers reportedly faced a three-times higher likelihood of experiencing stunted growth in Ghana.

The collaborative efforts, Dr. Owusu Martin Boamah, Technical Officer, RMNCAH at WHO Ghana said, aim to address these multifaceted challenges by implementing targeted awareness campaigns, enhancing healthcare infrastructure, and providing training for healthcare professionals.

He added that by prioritizing maternal mental health, the initiative seeks to create a supportive environment for women in rural areas, ensuring their well-being and that of their children during and after pregnancy.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) is very well positioned with the needed capacity to lead high-level advocacy, capacity building for institutions and providers, development of training guides, as well as piloting of the perinatal mental health units (PNMHU) for evidence generation towards national scaling up of integration,” Dr. Boamah stated.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Moses Apiah|Ghana

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