The Centre for Constitutional Order (CENCORD), a legal think-tank dedicated to the advancement and protection of constitutional rights, has launched the Ghana Action on Preeclampsia Campaign (GHAPEC).
The five-year project is aimed at creating awareness on the symptoms of preeclampsia, which, although preventable, claims the lives of many pregnant women in this country.
Coinciding with the World Preeclampsia Day marked on May 22, the event which was held at the 37 Military Hospital on the theme ‘be prepared before lightning strikes’, highlighted the importance of early symptom recognition because preeclampsia can occur quickly without warning.
Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnancy characterised by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention in the feet and protein urine.
Preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy claim the lives of nearly 76,000 mothers and 500,000 babies worldwide every year and symptoms of preeclampsia may present during pregnancy and up to six weeks post-partum.
The health condition is a common factor in preterm delivery and accounts for 20 percent of all neonatal intensive care admissions. It results in 16 percent of maternal deaths in low and middle income countries, where 99 percent of pregnancy-related deaths occur.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Solomon Osei Fosu, Executive Director of CENCORD, said the think-tank was moved to initiate the project because of the low awareness of the health condition in the country.
He said a survey conducted indicates that 93 percent of women in Accra have no idea what preeclampsia is about.
“As a legal think-tank, we know basic human right includes right to life, we therefore find it necessary to support and educate our women on this deadly pregnancy hypertensive induced disease called preeclampsia.
After all, no woman, baby or both ought to die during pregnancy. It is just that the actors in this industry have failed to act appropriately,” he added.
He mentioned that the centre has started recruiting volunteers across the country who would go round in educating women and even men on the symptoms of preeclampsia
“What we plan to do after here, is to liaise with public hospitals nationwide to donate blood pressure monitors to pregnant women: the era of one pregnant woman one blood pressure monitor machine,” he indicated.
Koiwah Koi-Larbi Ofosuapea, project lead for the campaign who has been a victim of the health condition, said many lives are taken or seriously affected by these pregnancy disorders, underscoring the importance of symptom recognition and timely and effective response by trained healthcare workers.
Mrs Koi-Larbi Ofosuapea who is a mother of one and still under 30 years old suffered under the fatal and cruel menace of the pregnancy disorder – preeclampisa and eclampsia.
“Twice my husband and I have had to bury our two sons. My own life has been at risk because of this disease. I say we cannot and will not go through this anymore for the fear and mental anguish is unbearable,” she shared her experience.
She, thus, called on government, health systems and all stakeholders to, among others, recognise the importance of preventing and treating these disorders.
This, she added, could be done through encouraging additional research funding into preeclampsia and related disorders, prioritising patient and community education and treatment for these disorders, and prioritising education, training and access to medical resources for healthcare providers.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri