Don't be afraid to attend antenatal clinics — GHS

Don't be afraid to attend antenatal clinics — GHS

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has assured pregnant women that various measures have been put in place at health facilities to ensure their safety from COVID-19, and as such they should not be afraid to attend antenatal clinics.

According to the GHS, attendance at antenatal clinics has reduced in some regions of the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reports from some of the health facilities indicate that some pregnant women were apprehensive of attending antenatal clinics for fear of getting infected with the coronavirus.

Risk reduction measures

The Acting Director of the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, allayed the fears of the pregnant women, stating that currently, aside the general directive for all to put on masks, everybody that entered any health facility was screened before they could even have access to the Out Patient Department (OPD), including antenatal services.

Other safety measures that have been put in place at antenatal clinics include compulsory handwashing for both health staff and clients before they enter the clinic and the provision of daily antenatal services instead of once in a week in order to reduce crowding and to facilitate adherence to physical distancing recommendations.

In addition to these, Dr Sagoe-Moses said the GHS had also recommended the giving of specific date and time appointments to pregnant women instead of the previous practice of asking all of them to attend the clinic on a specific day without a time schedule.

"We are also trying to improve communication between pregnant women and their midwives such that, when they are at home and there is something bothering them, they can call their midwives for a discussion. Perhaps, the problem might be one that the midwife can solve through a phone call. That way, the pregnant woman would not have to come to the clinic physically," she added.

Dr Sagoe-Moses noted that with all these measures in place it means face-to-face contact between pregnant women and health staff at the clinics would be limited to critical times only, adding that all these were aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at these clinics.

She said these measures have been communicated to the various regional health administrations who are working with districts and health facilities across the country to implement them.

Risk of pregnancy complications

Dr Sagoe-Moses stressed that although it was good that pregnant women were trying to protect themselves from COVID-19, they should not do so by placing themselves at the risk of other pregnancy complications that were preventable and treatable.

By their refusal to attend antenatal clinics, pregnant women open themselves up to complications that could cause them to lose their babies or their own lives during pregnancy or labour.

The whole essence of antenatal clinic attendance is to ensure that women remained healthy throughout pregnancy and are well prepared to deliver healthy babies, she pointed out.

She said it was for that reason that when they attend antenatal clinics pregnant women are checked for various parameters related to their own health and that of the unborn babies.

For instance, she said, “blood pressure (BP) readings are taken to ensure that they are within the normal range.

Blood and urine samples are also taken and checked. Anti-malaria drugs are given to women because malaria in pregnancy could be risky for both the mother and her unborn baby while iron, multivitamin and folic acid tablets are given to ensure that they did not get anaemic.”

She said during pregnancy, the body demanded more of these micronutrients for the growth of the baby so they were given in order to prevent the woman from anaemia, therefore, if a woman did not attend antenatal clinic while pregnant, then she might end up with a complication during pregnancy or labour and might end up losing her life or putting the life of her unborn baby in danger.