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SPEECH DELIVERED BY H.E THE FIRST LADY MRS. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE WORLD PRE-ECLAMPSIA DAY,22 OF MAY, 2018.

Madam chair

CEO Ridge Hospital

UNFPA Representative

Staff of RidgeHospital

Partners

Members of the media

Distinguished invited guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning to you all. I am indeed happy to observe the international day on Pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia with you. A day like this reminds us, to intensity our efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, by critically addressing both pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.

Globally, 830 women die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes each day. After post-delivery bleeding, the second cause of these deaths,are pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Significantly in some regions in Ghana, notably Greater Accra and Central, pre-eclampsia is the leading cause of maternal death.

The fact, according to experts is that these deaths are preventable and yet essential medicines and tools to treat this disorder,are often unavailable in our context.

This is indeed sad. It is critical that we increase, resources including essential medicines to prevent and treat the condition. We also need to increase awareness and knowledge about symptoms, prevention and treatment to help save the lives of mothers.

So today, indulge me for a few minutes, as I share what I now know about pre-eclampsia and eclampsia with you. We always need to start from a place of knowledge.

Pre –eclampsia as I understand, 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.

Some other symptoms include severe headaches, changes in vision and upper abdominal pain, usually under the ribs on the right side. Other symptoms include Nausea or vomiting, decreased urine output and shortness of breath,caused by fluid in the lungs.

It is important for us to note that pre-eclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms. So Yaa Mansa’s high blood pressure may have developed slowly or suddenly. If undiagnosed, pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a serious condition that can put a woman and her baby at risk and may even cause death. There’s no way to cure preeclampsia except for delivery, and that can be a scary prospect for mothers-to-be. But you can help protect yourself by learning the symptoms of preeclampsia and by seeing your doctor for regular prenatal care. Catching preeclampsia early may lessen potential long-term effects for both mother and baby, that is why, I encourage pregnant women to attend all ante-natal clinics as scheduled,to allow the professionals take care of you.

I am also told that there are certain risk factors that make it easier for a woman to suffer pre-eclampsia. I want to share some of these to help us recognize them and seek help.

A woman is at a higher risk, if she has a personal or family history of pre-eclampsia or has chronic hypertension. The risk is also higher with a first pregnancy or if a woman is pregnant with her second or third child with a new partner. 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.

Again the risk to the woman is higher, if the woman is young or older than 40 years or her babies are spaced less than two years or more than 10 years apart. I therefore entreat our adolescent girls to focus on their education and encourage us all to practice family planning.

This is not to frighten anyone. As we know having knowledge allows us to take the necessary steps to stay well and alive. Because really, left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for both the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

There are of course other relevant and critical information best provided by a professional, not someone like me, pretending to be one for a couple of hours. I will therefore entreat our health workers, to intensify the education on pre-eclampsia and other conditions that lead to the still unacceptable rate of maternal deaths in Ghana.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to fight pre-eclampsia to save our mothers and babies. It is what compels me to be here this morning. I know it is what compels all of you to be here too. I congratulate Ghana Action on Pre-eclampsia for your vision and drive in organizing this annual function.
May God bless all women, especially pregnant women. My prayer is that we will all work together to make childbirth safe for both mother and baby.Once again thank you for the invitation.

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