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, with the global numbers indicating that “830 women die from pregnancy and childbirths related causes each day”, and pre-eclampsia coming second to post-delivery bleeding, the trend is not soothing to the ear.
She therefore bemoaned the assertion that, whilst these deaths are preventable, essential medicines and tools to treat this disorder, are often unavailable in our context.
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.
Explaining more about this deadly but silent killer, Mrs. Akufo-Addo stated that “Pre –eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to organs, most often the liver and kidneys.
Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women, whose blood pressure had previously been normal”.
“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.
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.
“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 take advantage of available information to stay well and healthy.
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 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.