Dr Atwine wants more emphasis on early antenatal care to mitigate pre-eclampsia

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Dr Atwine wants more emphasis on early antenatal care to mitigate pre-eclampsia
Dr Diana Atwine wants pregnant women to make antenatal care their priority

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, has encouraged pregnant women to adopt early antenatal care in a bid to combat pre-eclampsia in the country.

Pre-eclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure. It usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure had been normal.

Dr Atwine made the call on Monday while officiating at the launch of "10 Days Advocacy Against Preeclampsia" campaign at Kawempe National Referral Hospital.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, and other partners, the 10-day campaign aims at creating public awareness on pre-eclampsia, which has now eclipsed as a primary cause of maternal deaths in the country.

Speaking at the campaign launch, Dr Atwine urged Ugandan women to improve pregnancy ownership by always coming to hospitals for early detection of pre-eclampsia, a condition she said is treatable.

“Emphasis should be put on importance of early antenatal care given the critical need to detect complications early to mitigate the potential damage from high blood pressure which causes gross harm to both pregnancy and other vital organs such as the kidneys,” she said.

“That's (pre-eclampsia) actually a disease that can be treated, which can be managed in our hospital, we can prevent complications, and we can actually look after the babies and the baby can grow even in that condition.”

Dr Atwine said the campaign aims to facilitate widespread dissemination of awareness on pre-eclampsia to women and their support networks, which will foster a collective effort in championing healthier pregnancies and securing brighter futures for mothers and their children.

“Pre-eclampsia cannot be dealt with until the patients themselves know what to do, come early, get treated early. Because by the time they come here normally, they come when they have complications of their kidney, their organs have started failing. So we don't want to get there. We want to prevent this. And then we have better outcomes of their babies and the mothers.” Dr Atwine remarked.

Speaking to journalists, Dr Emmanuel Byaruhanga, the Kawempe hospital director, said they receive over 150 patients with pre-eclampsia monthly at the hospital.

“This being a national referral, most of the complications are referred to here. In terms of causing maternal deaths, nationally, pre-eclampsia is number two,” Dr Byaruhanga said.

According to available data, pre-eclampsia is the second leading cause of maternal death in Uganda (12 percent to 19 percent).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pre-eclampsia is responsible for approximately 10-15 percent of maternal deaths worldwide.

Pre-eclampsia can often be managed with oral or IV medication until the baby is sufficiently mature to be delivered. This often requires weighing the risks of early delivery versus the risks of continued pre-eclampsia symptoms.

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