MEASLES, A THREAT TO PREGNANT WOMEN By Wright Amesimeku


All over the world, giving birth to a healthy baby is the dream of every parent. This dream is however a nine day wonder in some part of the world. Giving birth to a healthy baby starts from the very top of government through to the family of the expectant mother. Certain policies by the government concerning healthcare delivery have a huge impact on healthcare. Antenatal and postnatal care delivery services have been very helpful in this regard. Most expectant mothers are expected to attend to these services once every month. The overall objective is to help the mother deliver a healthy baby without any complication to the mother and child.

In some parts of the world, these services are free to all expectant mothers even though there may be factors which affects these services. “The woman at the maternity ward is in labour. Kindly call Aunty Joyce (Aunty Joyce was the midwife on duty) immediately, says the student nurse to a colleague in the facility. Within a short period of time the midwife was in. Hello Aunty Rebecca, everything will be fine. Kindly push hard, yes push … this went on and on till she delivered a bouncing baby boy. Oh, shouted by the midwife, there is a second, Kindly push again, push harder … On and on she delivered a bouncing baby girl. There was joy in the eyes of Aunty Rebecca, the expectant mother. The husband came and he was immediately assign some tasks to do regarding the mother and the twins”.  This took place at the Denmida Health Services Clinic at Dansoman Russia, Accra-Ghana on Wednesday, 15th of August 2018. Aunty Rebecca said “I took my antenatal very seriously because this was my first pregnancy and through that most of my pregnancy related issues were addressed. I am very grateful to God and to the staff. Thank you”.

Several factors goes into a successful delivery without any pregnancy related risk which any prospective mother must follow. Antenatal care delivery service is important in delivering a healthy baby even though most pregnant women in Ghana have issues attending to this service. “Our roads are very bad. I get so tired going to the hospital and due to the bumpy nature of the road, I am afraid it might lead to me having a forcibly induced labor” Says Grace Awotwi at Twifo Praso. This and several reasons were raised by some expectant mothers refusing to go in for these services. Theresa Osei was one of the pregnant who delivered all her seven at home and this being her first time coming for Antenatal clinic made her happy because she learnt so many things through the antenatal education given by the midwives. When she was asked why she did not attend any of the ANC programs for her other children, she said, “The roads were very bad then. Now, it is somehow better. That’s why I came”.

Education has been a key area in the ante and postnatal care services in various facilities. Most pregnant women are taught on several topics which helps to ease delivery. One topic that is taught is vaccination. They are advised to allow their babies to be vaccinated. One contagious disease taught to the expectant mothers so they get their babies vaccinated is Measles. Before 1963, approximately 2.6 million deaths were recorded every 2 to 3 years during major epidemics of measles. Measles is among the leading cause of death among children globally, mostly children under the age of 5 years. Even though there is a safe and effective vaccine, approximately 89,780 children died of this disease last two years. More than 41,000 people have been affected with this disease with 37 deaths recorded in only Europe last year. This numbers shows how serious the disease is and therefore all mothers must make it a point for their children to be vaccinated.

Measles is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family and normally passed through direct contact and through the air (spreads by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected persons nasal or throat secretions). This disease affects only humans and greatly affects the respiratory tract negatively. This disease then spreads through-out the whole body. This deadly virus could stay active in the air or on surfaces for 2 hours. Overcrowding and poor hospital infrastructure could accelerate the spread of measles.

This contagious disease could lead to death. Death sets in when there are complications. Complications such as encephalitis, blindness, severe diarrhoea, ear infections, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Complications are however intense with children under the age of 5 years and adults over the age of 30 years. Individuals that are malnourished and those who lack vitamin A could have severe complications. Immune-compromised individuals are not left out.    

Fever (a rise in temperature) is usually the first sign of measles. This happens after 10-12 days after exposure to the virus and last about 4-7 days. During the initial onset of the disease, one can develop a runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes and a rash which eventually spreads to the hands and feet. The rash last for 5 to 6 days. Getting this infectious disease is not a death sentence but not reporting on time could lead to complications above. There are no specific antiviral treatment for measles but effective treatment could prevent certain complications. Taking in plenty of fluid during the disease is essential. This will replace the lost of fluid during vomiting and diarrhoea. Antibiotic should be given to treat eye and ear infection. Vitamin A supplement must be giving to all children affected with measles 24 hours apart. This has shown to reduce death by 50%.

Routine measles vaccination for children is available. The measles vaccine is protective for 50 years. The disease can be deadly when complication sets in. “During my first delivery, they told us the vaccine measles is finished. I had to go and come back in two weeks to get my two kids vaccinated. For my last born, Julia, I taught she was vaccinated until now. I am very worried”. Said Patience Boateng, Julia’s mother who attended the Princess Marie Children’s hospital on 26th of August, 2018. Mothers must ensure their children are vaccinated. They should also make it a point to attend all ante and postnatal care delivery services. People who recover from this contagious disease are immune for life. Kindly take note that the measles vaccine is not expensive and free.

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