BY LORRAINE MUROMO
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) says experience in Zimbabwe and Pakistan has revealed that pre-natal mental disorders have heightened since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement yesterday, WHO said it was working on a programme which sought to demystify pre-natal mental disorders that are common with birthing mothers.
The international health body said the programmes would be spearheaded by the Moment Country and Global Leadership, in collaboration with WHO and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from September 7 to 9, 2021.
The consultations will run under the theme Experiences from Zimbabwe and Pakistan: Fostering collaboration with the Health ministry to ensure maternal mental health services.
“These consultations come at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic where mental disorders which include pre-natal and post-partum depression and anxiety, are the leading complications of pregnancy and childbirth globally,” read the statement.
WHO said one in five women in low and middle-income countries suffer from pre-natal and post-partum mental disorders, while the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence.
Society for Pre- and Post-Natal Services (Spans) secretary and chief talent team leader Linos Muvhu yesterday told NewsDay that as an organisation, they were excited to partake in the event as it presented Zimbabwe with an opportunity to tackle maternal mental health issues.
“Maternal mental health issues are a world problem, where most African countries have not started to integrate mental health in the broader focus of maternal, neo-natal, family planning, sexual reproductive health, and adolescent health issues,” Muvhu said.
“This event and its focus on maternal mental health is great news for us as Spans and Zimbabwe.
“Our hopes as Spans are to make sure there is huge support from the international community and training of family mental health cadres who will respond to issues.
“We hope these international donors come in to give funding towards this crucial area.”
Muvhu said there was need to support maternal mental health through educational programmes.
He said the Zimbabwe and Pakistan case study would strengthen research on maternal health programmes, issues of child health, nutrition and mental health of communities.
Globally, there are effective psychosocial and health promotion interventions to foster support for maternal mental health, but it remains a silent burden that has not yet received the political and programmatic attention it warrants from the global health community.