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Some health workers in Upper West Region to be trained on maternal mental health issues

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About nine hundred Community Mental Health Officers, (CHMOs), along with four hundred midwives and one hundred Traditional Birth Assistants in the Upper West Region, are to be trained on maternal mental health issues within the next three years.

The training forms part of the enhancing maternal mental health of 29,520 pregnant women, mothers and children to realize the holistic maternal and child health in Ghana project.

It is expected to equip health workers in the region to deal with cases of depression, post-partum andsuicidal tendencies in reproductive mothers.

The Project Coordinator of the Center for People’s Empowerment and Rights Initiatives CPRI, Dominic Wunigura, speaking at a stakeholders meeting at Wa in the Upper West Region, called for the integration and main streaming of mental health services, to ensure that mothers get theneeded professional mental health services before, during and after birth.

The enhancing maternal mental health of 29,520 pregnant women, mothers and children torealize a holistic maternal and child health in Ghana project is expected to run in 76 Districts and Municipals across the three regions of the North and the Bono- Ahafo Region over a three year period.

Project Coordinator of CPRI, Dominic Wunigura

The Project Coordinator of CPRI, Dominic Wunigura, said aside the training of health personnel, self-help groups would be formed in all the communities the project will be run, to help women in their reproductive ages that have mental health issues.

“The self-help groups are going to be comprised of mothers who will be screened to have one condition of mental condition or the other and or their children. What it means is that, one you are screened and identified with one mental health condition, you are referred into the group. Let’s say if you go to a facility we have five, six persons who are identified with these conditions, they are put into a group and we have midwives taking special care of them so thatthey are not left on the own, they can support each other psychosocially,” he explained.

Acting Regional Health Director, Dr. Abdulai Abubakari (Standing with microphone)

The Acting Regional Health Director, Dr. Abdulai Abubakari, stressed on the importance of self-help groups to the success of the program. “Let’s pay attention to these self-help groups and also the microfinances we are thinking of giving to the vulnerable, it is very important. I always maintain that poverty combined withignorance is more dangerous than all the diseases we have on this earth,” he said.

The Medical Director in charge of the Upper West Regional Hospital, Dr Barnabas Naa Gandau, charged health practitioners to take advantage of new communication tools for better integration among health service workers.

He stressed the need to streamline the general health care of pregnant women to include mental health services saying “the mental health status of all pregnant women is paramount.

This is because pregnancy especially has more impact on the mental health status of women rather than most other common illnesses.

“Whether it is a wanted pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy, is the baby going to be ok? It actually has a lot of impact, so when we treat mental health issues with lip services, especially in women in [their] reproductive age, or those about to reproduce, we are actually doing disservice to the nation.”

The Program Advisor of CPRI, Anacletus Seeninyin, explained that the project was started in 2016, but halted few months down the line.

He said the programme is expected to this time, run the full course without any interruptions.

Mr. Seeninyin said refresher trainings would be organised for all health workers who received some training prior to the halt of the program.

The enhancing maternal mental health of 29,520 pregnant women, mothers and children to realize a holistic maternal and child health in Ghana project is being implemented by CPRI and

Basic Needs Ghana with funding support from UKAID and main partners as the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

Story by Mark Smith

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