Ms. Lauren a 22 year old woman and her husband were eagerly expecting their first born, like any other couple would.
During one of their antenatal visits at 6 months, everything went well and the couple was told they were expecting twins. This got them really thrilled, but this excitement was short lived.
A few days after, Lauren started feeling pains that were not exactly explained, then swollen feet and swollen body. When she went to a higher level health facility, she was diagnosed with preeclampsia, preeclampsia is a serious disease related to high blood pressure that can strike fast –“eclampsia” which is the Greek word for lightning. She was later referred to Mulago hospital where the fetus was removed to save her life, seven days after the baby died due to breathing related complications.
When further tests were run on Lauren, it was found that her kidneys were damaged.
Lauren is not alone; “10-40 % of the maternal deaths in Uganda are due to preeclampsia. Many women in Uganda die and lose their babies to preeclampsia due to ignorance about the disease which is the second cause of death among pregnant women, second to hemorrhage.”
Dr. Annet Nakimuli, a senior Gynecologist and Obstetrician at Mulago Hospital told the press during a press briefing organized by Health Systems Advocacy Partners that include: African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST); Amref Health Africa and Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS) during the Inaugural World Preeclampsia Day held at the Golf Course Hotel on 22nd May 2017 under the theme: “Take the Preeclampsia Pledge – Know the symptoms. Spread the word.
Dr. Nakimuli noted that during the antenatal visits, women find when Blood Pressure machines in some health facilities are non-functional and their conditions never get to be diagnosed at an early stage where the condition is manageable, coupled with the challenge of stock out of Magnesium Sulphate, used in the management of the condition.
The objective of the press briefing was to raise awareness of preeclampsia and its country wide impact on the lives of mothers, babies, and families.
Dr. Jesca Nsungwa Sabiti, Commissioner Planning at Ministry of Health giving the position of government on the available services, space, policies and guidelines for handling preeclampsia noted that preeclampsia is a neglected disease among women and there isn’t any comprehensive data available on preeclampsia, but the ministry of health is working with National Identification and Registration Authority to establish figures.
She recognized the key role played by CSOs in raising awareness and called CSOs to continue with their concerted effort in raising awareness that is geared towards ending the pandemic in Uganda.
The partners presented a joint statement that had clear cut recommendations that include among others: Encourage additional research funding into preeclampsia and related disorders;
Prioritize education, training, and access to medical resources for healthcare providers; Encourage collaboration and partnerships between public and private sector organizations to support and advance these goals; bring the fight nearer to the communities and Join advocacy for adequacy of budgets.
Compiled by Loice Epetiru,
Communications Specialist, African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST)