LARKANA: Anaemia is the major health problem in developing countries where nine out of every 10 people are suffering from it, most of them being pregnant women, said experts on Saturday.
They were speaking at a public awareness programme about maternal and foetal health programmes held at the Shaikh Zayed Hospital for Women organised by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Pakistan (SOGP).
The experts, quoting World Health Organisation statistics, said that in developing countries around 56 per cent of pregnant women on average were anaemic.
The chief of the gynaecology department at the Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Prof Dr Rafia Baloch, said that anaemia during pregnancy besides affecting the mother also seriously affected the health of the foetus in terms of developing resistance to infections.
Linking acquired anaemia with deficiency of essential nutrients in the diet, she said that if iron unavailability, deficiency and poor absorption continued for considerable time then it increased the risk of pre-term delivery and if left untreated could lead to chronic health problems. She said that iron deficiency could also cause slow mental and motor development in the infant.
Dr Baloch listed malaria and worm infestations as the two leading caused of anaemia in women. In Pakistan, she said, another cause was thalassaemia, a blood disorder which was inherited.
She said that proper hygiene, sanitation and access to safe potable water, combined with education of women, were the best strategies to eliminate the problems of anaemia among pregnant women.
Associate Professor Shahida Magsi, a member of the central executive committee of SOGP and vice president of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Larkana chapter, said that haemorrhage and sepsis were the two most common reasons which led to deaths of women during pregnancy. Every hour, she said, three women died because of pregnancy-related complications in Pakistan.
She said that these problems could be avoided with the simplest of measures, such as taking folic acid, iron supplements and antibiotics properly, besides performing food transfusion where required.
Dr Magsi stressed educating mothers about ante-natal care. She said that pregnant women should avoid heavy work, remain relaxed and calm in their every day life.