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Addressing maternal mental health care in Africa

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  Affecting about 20 of pregnant women in LMIC i Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are common during pregnancy and the first year after birth with consequences for both mothers and babies Africa s health systems and in particular the mental health infrastructure may not be adequately serving the continent s women who often experience intense suffering if left untreated A period of heightened emotions and often great joy pregnancy also brings anxiety and uncertainty to women s lives It is a tumultuous time during which roles and relationships change For many women on the continent already burdened by poverty gender based violence and limited access to quality health care concerns about coping with the physical changes and side effects that come with pregnancy and whether will not have enough support once their child is born fuels these anxieties says Cynthia Makarutse Africa Health 2022 Congress Content Lead they may wish to terminate their pregnancies but cannot do so safely through the public health system ii The prospect of miscarriage is also a cause for concern she explains Pregnancy can trigger or worsen mental health conditions such as anorexia bipolar disorder obsessive compulsive disorder OCD drug or alcohol use and panic attacks iii Additionally women facing mental health issues may be stigmatized by their communities or even their health care providers iv The insufficiencies of our health systems may be fueling mental health problems among pregnant mothers and those who give birth adds Makarutse Poor communication between health workers and their patients invasive methods contempt for pain and personality Medical negligence obstetric violence and disregard for privacy are among the pressing issues the sector must address to restore trust in Africa s maternal health systems Themed Post Pandemic Medical Obstetrics Updates Consensus and Controversies the 4th Medical Obstetrics Conference at this year s Africa Health Expo on October 28 promises a day of insightful discussion with some of the continent s leading authorities sharing their expertise on ways to bridge critical gaps in our current paradigms of obstetric and maternal care In the session on Community Midwifery moderated by Dr Coceka Mnyani Dr Lavinia Lumu Specialist Psychiatrist at Akeso Crescent Clinic will explore mental health disorders in pregnancy UCT s celebrated Professor Sue Fawcus tackles the question Did the Covid pandemic undo the progress made in reducing maternal mortality in South Africa and Dr Tamsyn Baillie Stanton discuss The role of the emergency physician in reducing maternal mortality The talks will be followed by an interactive debate giving attendees the opportunity to interact with these renowned speakers We need to build a resilient and compassionate health system where expectant mothers are given the dignity and respect they deserve Pregnant and giving birth mothers in Africa must have access to high quality care and appropriate medication We are moving in the right direction but more concerted efforts and strong collaborative interventions are likely to be required to ensure that the plight of pregnant women with mental health disorders is adequately addressed Makarutse concludes i https bit ly 2LeUmrA ii https bit ly 3JSAFDL iii https bit ly 3QH9ON9 iv https bit ly 3bQtkIp
Addressing maternal mental health care in Africa

1 Affecting about 20% of pregnant women in LMIC[i]Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are common during pregnancy and the first year after birth, with consequences for both mothers and babies.

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2 Africa’s health systems, and in particular the mental health infrastructure, may not be adequately serving the continent’s women, who often experience intense suffering if left untreated.

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3 “A period of heightened emotions and often great joy, pregnancy also brings anxiety and uncertainty to women’s lives.

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4 It is a tumultuous time during which roles and relationships change.

5 “For many women on the continent, already burdened by poverty, gender-based violence and limited access to quality health care, concerns about coping with the physical changes and side effects that come with pregnancy and whether will not have enough support once their child is born fuels these anxieties,” says Cynthia Makarutse, Africa Health 2022 Congress Content Lead. they may wish to terminate their pregnancies but cannot do so safely through the public health system.[ii].

6 The prospect of miscarriage is also a cause for concern,” she explains.

7 Pregnancy can trigger or worsen mental health conditions such as anorexia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), drug or alcohol use, and panic attacks[iii].

8 Additionally, women facing mental health issues may be stigmatized by their communities or even their health care providers.[iv].

9 “The insufficiencies of our health systems may be fueling mental health problems among pregnant mothers and those who give birth,” adds Makarutse.

10 “Poor communication between health workers and their patients; invasive methods; contempt for pain and personality; Medical negligence; obstetric violence and disregard for privacy are among the pressing issues the sector must address to restore trust in Africa’s maternal health systems.”

11 Themed “Post-Pandemic Medical Obstetrics: Updates, Consensus and Controversies,” the 4th Medical Obstetrics Conference at this year’s Africa Health Expo on October 28 promises a day of insightful discussion, with some of the continent’s leading authorities sharing their expertise on ways to bridge critical gaps in our current paradigms of obstetric and maternal care.

12 In the session on ‘Community Midwifery’, moderated by Dr. Coceka Mnyani, Dr. Lavinia Lumu, Specialist Psychiatrist at Akeso Crescent Clinic, will explore ‘mental health disorders in pregnancy’; UCT‘s celebrated Professor Sue Fawcus tackles the question: ‘Did the Covid pandemic undo the progress made in reducing maternal mortality in South Africa?’; and Dr. Tamsyn Baillie Stanton discuss ‘The role of the emergency physician in reducing maternal mortality’.

13 The talks will be followed by an interactive debate, giving attendees the opportunity to interact with these renowned speakers.

14 “We need to build a resilient and compassionate health system where expectant mothers are given the dignity and respect they deserve.

15 Pregnant and giving birth mothers in Africa must have access to high-quality care and appropriate medication.

16 “We are moving in the right direction, but more concerted efforts and strong collaborative interventions are likely to be required to ensure that the plight of pregnant women with mental health disorders is adequately addressed,” Makarutse concludes.

[i] https://bit.ly/2LeUmrA
[ii] https://bit.ly/3JSAFDL
[iii] https://bit.ly/3QH9ON9
[iv] https://bit.ly/3bQtkIp

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