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Include maternal mental health screening in health policy – CPRI tells government

By Philip Tengzu

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The Centre for People Empowerment and Right Initiative (CPRI has called on the government delibrately incorporate maternal mental health screening into other health policies.
This, it said would ensure that pregnant women are screened of mental health anytime they visited the facility for maternal health care services as done for other health conditions such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Mr Dominic Wunigura, Programmes Coordinator for CPRI, who made the call in an interview with the Mak News in Wa on Monday on the sidelines of a training workshop for 54 health service providers, said government had pained particular interest to the physical wellbeing of pregnant women to th he neglet of their psychological welbeing.
The service providers were drawn forn the Wa Municipal, Wa East and Wa West Districts with similar trainings to be conducted for the remaining eight districts and municipalities in the Upper West Region.
“We have come to realise that when we tackle mental health from the angle of maternal issues, in other words pregnant women and mothers of children below the ages of two years we will be able to prevent a lot of mental health issues”, he said.


He explained that about 190 health services providers – midwives, community health nurses and enrolled nurses – would benefit from a project being implemented by CPRI on the theme: “Enhancing maternal mental health of pregnant women, mothers and children in Ghana”.
The project which was in partnership with Basic Needs UK and with financial support from UKAID, was to, among other things, train health service providers who were directly working with pregnant women and mothers of children under two year on the Prenatal Adapted Screening Tool (PAST).
He added that the project was launched in 2018 and that the CPRI had engaged all major stakeholders in the health sector including traditional birth attendants and community volunteers in sub districts where the project would be implemented.
“We will train midwives, community health nurses and enrolled nurses on the Prenatal Adapted Screening Tool. It looks at all forms of mental illness-anxiety, depression, psychosis and other extreme cases of suicidal tendencies and disability.
It will help them undertake basic screening for mothers or pregnant women who come for maternal services and appropriately refer them for further assessment and treatment”, Mr Wunigura added.
He explained that incorporating maternal mental health in other health policies would broaden the scope of health delivery.
“We want to ensure that when a pregnant woman comes we do not only look at the physical wellbeing but we are able to include the mental health aspect because pregnancy and child bearing brings about a lot of burden that affects the psychological wellbeing of a parent”, he emphasised.
Mr Wunigura also called for awareness creation about the issues of maternal mental health as well as conscious efforts to be able to support those women since treatment of mental illness goes hand-in-hand with other psycho-social and environmental factors.
He also entreated the people to embrace the initiative and said screening one of mental health did not mean that she was mentally ill but a way to avert preventable mental health cases.

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