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Call for National Policy on Maternal Mental Health care

February 14, 2024
Call for National Policy on Maternal Mental Health care

Dr. Promise Sefogah, a Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist and Health Services Management Consultant, has advocated for the implementation of a national policy, standards, and guidelines for routine Maternal (MMH) care programs in Ghana. This call comes in response to the pressing need to identify, manage, and prevent mental health disorders among mothers, crucial for ensuring their well-being and fostering optimal growth and development for their children.

Dr. Sefogah made these remarks during a national dissemination conference on the Situational Analysis of Maternal Mental Health in Ghana, organized by the (GHS) with funding from the Foreign Development Office (UK-FCDO) in .

Maternal Mental Health encompasses a spectrum of conditions affecting women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, including , anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis. These conditions not only impact the mother but also influence bonding, caregiving, and long-term mental health outcomes for the child.

The situational analysis aimed to assess existing policies, literature, and the state of maternal mental healthcare in Ghana to identify gaps and propose recommendations for integrating maternal mental health into routine maternity care.

Globally, maternal mental health problems affect a significant proportion of women, with prevalence rates estimated between 18% to 38%. In low and middle-income countries (LMICs) like Ghana, prevalence rates are even higher, ranging from 15% to 57%.

In Ghana specifically, studies have reported varying prevalence rates of post-partum depression, ranging from 8.6% to 41% across different healthcare levels.

Dr. Sefogah stressed the importance of government intervention, emphasizing the need for education to reduce stigma, training healthcare professionals, implementing screening tools, improving access to services and medications, and fostering multi-sectoral collaboration for integrated maternal mental healthcare.

Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, commended the researchers for their assessment and pledged the government's commitment to championing improvements in Ghana's health sector. He assured that the would provide leadership in implementing the recommendations from the report.

Dr. Anthony Adofo, Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, called for prioritizing access to maternal mental health services and ensuring healthcare workers were equipped with the necessary skills to deliver comprehensive care.

Dr. Francis Kasolo, representing the (WHO), applauded the dissemination of the report and pledged continued support to implement interventions promoting integration of maternal mental health services into perinatal care.

The event was attended by representatives from various organizations, including the Mental Health Authority, UK-FCDO, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Ghana, Association, and other healthcare professionals, highlighting the collective commitment to addressing maternal mental health in Ghana.

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