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Kisumu medics front for early diagnosis of preeclampsia to reduce deaths

Health practitioners in Kisumu County have called for early detection and treatment of preeclampsia to reduce maternal deaths in the area.

This follows a rise in the number of cases with 25% of expectant women who visit antenatal clinics in the area diagnosed with the disease.

Kisumu Acting Director of Medical Services Dr. Emma Obegi said Preeclampsia which is one of the hypertensive diseases in pregnancy can happen to any expectant woman after the twentieth week or up to six weeks after delivery.

According to health records, the disease is common in teenage mothers and women aged 30 and above.

If not detected early and treated, she said the disease can result in seizures, brain damage, stroke, premature birth and death.

The spike in the number of cases, she added, has been fueled by the rise in cases of teenage pregnancies.

About five sub counties in Kisumu, she said, have reported up to 20% cases of teenage pregnancies.

Speaking during World Preeclampsia day celebrations in Kisumu, Dr. Obegi called for early screening and detection to save lives.

She asked all expectant women to make use of the health facilities across the county and get tested during the first seven weeks of pregnancy for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Kisumu Reproductive Health Coordinator Jane Owuor said the disease was behind the rising number of morbidity and mortality rates in the area.

About a quarter of maternal deaths in the area, she said, are as a result of eclampsia.

Most of the mothers, she said, fail to get treatment on time and seek medical attention when the condition has advanced to eclampsia.

“The more you stay with the patient at home the more the condition worsens affecting the health of the mother and the baby,” she said.

She asked expectant mothers to attend antenatal clinics for their blood pressure to be taken and the parameters monitored.

Expectant mothers, she said must look out for symptoms which include severe headaches, blurred vision, and difficulty in breathing and swollen feet.

Access to Medicines Platform Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Okemo said preeclampsia indicators in Kisumu and the country were worrying.

The situation, she said, has been exacerbated by lack of capacity for proper diagnosis especially at level three facilities.

Lack of expertise and personnel to handle the patients, she added, remained a big challenge since most of the affected are taken to hospital when the condition is severe.

Most of the level three facilities, she added, lacked magnesium sulphate which is used to prevent seizures in women with preeclampsia.

Kenya, she said, was lagging behind in meeting targets on lowering maternal deaths calling for concerted efforts to address preeclampsia.

By Albright Medaline and Chris Mahandara

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