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Underage marriage seen as a major cause of maternal deaths

Underage marriage seen as a major cause of maternal deaths

KARACHI: Pregnancy is not a disease, yet a large number of women lose their life while giving birth because of multiple factors, all of which are preventable, said health experts at a programme held to celebrate Mother’s Day at Aga Khan University on Thursday.

Giving a presentation on maternal health, Dr Lumaan Sheikh said that every day 800 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and child birth. Most of these deaths, she said, occurred in under-developed countries of Asia and Africa. Around 289,000 maternal deaths occurred last year. “Forty-two per cent of women experience complications during pregnancy whereas 15pc of all pregnancy complications could be life threatening,” she said.

While 25 per cent deaths occurred during pregnancy and another 25pc maternal death occurred at the time of birth and during the following 24 hours, the remaining 50pc deaths occurred after delivery any time during the next year.

“This is the reason that it is now stressed that a maternal case should be followed after birth up to one year,” she explained.

Elaborating upon the medical causes of maternal death, she said that 25pc women died of severe bleeding (post-partum haemorrhage) while 15pc by infection and 18 due to obstructed labour. Eclampsia claimed 12pc lives and unsafe abortion 13pc.

“They are all preventable as treatment exists for all these health issues. That means there are some other factors which are contributing to maternal deaths. Some of them are under-age marriage, birth interval, parity, economic circumstances, nutritional status, education status, environmental conditions and cultural beliefs and practices,” she said.

According to her, the best time to start preparation for motherhood was the pre-pregnancy period when a woman supported by her family should start investing in her health.

“Most women in Pakistan that belonged to all strata of society are generally anaemic. If health issues like these are tackled early, one can reduce the number of maternal deaths. Timely management and treatment can make the difference between life and death,” she said.

Equally important was to have post-natal care and skilled care during labour as many women died due to infection during delivery. Such deaths could easily be prevented by adopting to simple, cost-efficient hygiene methods, she said.

Speaking on pelvic floor disorders, Dr Raheela Mohsin Rizvi said it was caused by weakness of or injury to the ligaments, connective tissues and muscles of the pelvis and, as a result, the bladder, urethra, small intestine, rectum, uterus or vagina dropped down.

“About one in 11 women need surgery for pelvic floor disorders that occur only in women and become more common as women age. More than 90pc cases can easily be treated,” she said while clarifying that prolapsed of vagina or uterus didn’t turn to cancer.

On menopause, Dr Aaliya B. Aziz said the average age for the natural phenomenon was 51, though it could occur between 40 and 56 years.

“Eighty-five per cent women experience hot flushes that could be managed by different strategies. Some women complain of depression during menopause but there is no substantial data linking depression to menopause,” she said, insisting that the period should be seen as an opportunity to give more attention to one’s health.

Head of the gynaecology and obstetrics department of the AKUH Dr Rahat Qureshi also spoke.

DAWN

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