Opinions Fri, 25 May 2018

Enemas and concoctions, the major cause of fetal deaths in pregnancies

It is appreciable to take cognizant of the fact that, the United Nations has developed new goals dubbed Sustainable Development Goals with its implementation since 2016 but it is still not out of place to make reference to the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 which aims to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health.

One will ask why these references are being made but as a health worker and a concerned citizen, I am troubled by occurrences of fetal deaths that happen every day at various health facilities due to an easily preventable situation of avoiding the use of enemas and concoctions during pregnancy.

With several interventions made by the Health Ministry of Ghana to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, it is sad to say that behavioural and cultural practices are hampering the progress of achieving this goal. Among the several factors which impede the progress to achieving this goal include the incessant use of enemas and concoctions during pregnancy.

Mothers who have lost their lives through this act are more than one can imagine across the country resulting in kidney failures, liver failures, abortions, DIC's etc.

The effects on the fetus in utero are enormous considering the teratogenicity of this concoctions and enemas which has resulted in birth defects and malformations, with eventual macerated deaths noticed when babies are delivered.

Several women have suffered this predicament of having to go home with lifeless babies because of an advise offered by a relative or a friend. Nothing describes it best than the sad look of regret on their faces after they have been told of the outcome of their actions.

What I ask myself is, why are women allowing themselves to suffer this in an era where enough health education is being offered at our Antenatal Services every day through Focused Antenatal Care, making every baby count initiative, periodic ultrasound imaging etc. Why do women who have visited health facilities and received health education still come home to take enemas and concoctions?. How many fetuses or babies must die before lessons are learnt?

Among responses gathered from some pregnant women and women who have lost their babies through this acts, they are told such concoctions and enemas provides protection for the unborn baby, and further protects the fetus against spiritual spells cast by evil men, aside this they also narrate it ensures easy delivery and shortens the delivery process, though the veracity of these cannot be ascertained and what is evident at the end of most of the episodes is the death of the innocent fetus born out macerated.

This behavior is not tied to the district in which I work alone but it is being perpetuated across the country killing innocent fetuses and babies who would have other wise become the future leaders of this country. Statistics to the causes of macerated deaths from our various health institutions point to the above mentioned behavior and practices, This is evidently clear in several presentations made at quarterly maternal and neonatal mortality meetings across the country.

How can we prevent further deaths of babies born macerated after the toil women go through in pregnancy?. Is the Ministry of Health doing enough on this?, Or is it the lack of trust of what orthodox medicine has to offer? Or pregnant women naturally becoming adamant or familiar with the health education hence not attach any seriousness to the information and counseling given. Our attention should not only be focused on the midwives who conducts the delivery but also to look at the relatives, spiritual leaders and traditional men who advise and give such concoctions and enemas; and are silently killing a lot more fetuses and babies during pregnancy and delivery.

My final submission to the above is that all parties involved would put their hands together to ameliorate this occurrence.

Columnist: Samuel Wiafe