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Mental Health Foundation News
Fighting misleading socio-cultural beliefs

  • A challenge for modern medicine

- Rabi Shakya

KATHMANDU, JUN 27, 2011 -: Mental illness is the most prevalent life-threatening issue among pregnant women, experts said at a programme organised in the Capital on Thursday.

Prof Gwyneth Lewis, internationally renowned advocate on safe motherhood, addressing the programme organised by Safe Motherhood Federation Nepal, said the international community has been convinced that suicide is another leading cause of maternal deaths in the world.

"Some 2.1 million people die of AIDS, tuberculosis kills 1.6 million and malaria causes 1.3 million deaths annually. However, 7.6 million deaths every year caused by pregnancy related complications go unnoticed," Lewis said. "Little has been done to reduce the maternal mortality rate (MMR)."

Lewis added that about 300 million women are living with long-term consequences of pregnancy, especially mental illness. The expert lauded Nepal's drastic reduction in the MMR.

Participants expressed concern that Nepal lacks a concrete policy on mental health. "An estimated 20-25 percent population could suffer from some kind of mental illness. However, less than one percent of the health sector budget is allocated in addressing mental illness in Nepal," one of the participants said.

Concerns were raised that increased cases of abortion among teenagers could have serious consequences, and that they need proper counselling during the process.

"I don't remember any pregnant woman coming to us,"  Meeta Rana, clinical psychologist at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, said. The lack of awareness on mental illness has worsened the situation, she added.

Psychiatrist Dr Saroj Prasad Ojha said the severity of depression among women is twice that among men. "Ten percent women suffer from depression during pregnancy while 13 percent suffer from it even after giving birth,"  Ojha said. "The situation in Nepal, which is dormant in our society, is no different."

Posted on: 2011-07-15 08:36
Source : http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/06/27/health-and-living/fighting-misleading-socio-cultural-beliefs/336374.html

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