Health News of Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Researchers working on a recent survey at the Mother-Baby unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi have noted a high rate of post-natal depression in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi.
The survey further indicates that when a mother is in such a state, their children face increased health risks.
According to the 2011 survey, 153 women in the Mother-Baby unit of the teaching hospital exhibited moderate to severe degrees of post-natal depression.
Dr. Ernest Kwarqo, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, described the situation as “worrying”, explaining that “it is a problem that we have swept under the carpet for far too long and something should be done about it.”
He explained that Ghanaians tend to view such reactions to childbirth as is normal and for that reason fail to appropriately care for women in this position.
“The Society in general lack an appreciation of what depressive psychiatric conditions are like, we take them to be normal stresses in society, and therefore we tend to downplay them and that leads to under reporting in the first place.”
He cited a research conducted by one Professor Agyapong, some years back, which revealed that about 30% of Ghanaians are depressed.
In some instances, depression is attributed to spiritism, leading people to seek for spiritual intervention and at times neglecting the physical intervention, Dr. Kwarqo noted.
He also mentioned lack of organised social support for mothers suffering from depression: the majority of them are those in financial straights, those who are not in position to take care of their children.
Dr. Kwarqo also maintained that young mothers below the age of 18 are a lot more prone to post-natal depression largely because they are not economically equipped to take care of themselves and their children.
Most of them, he said, are not in any matrimonial union and therefore lack partner support.
Society also frowns on young mothers without husbands, he explained, saying, “we alienate them, we think they are outcast and all add to their depression, I think we should do better than this.”
Dr. Kwarqo has therefore described the creation of new ministry in charge of Gender, Children, and Social Protection as “spot on” and hoped it would live up the expectations. He urged the ministry to prioritise depression on its agenda.