Women’s Health Unit introduces tool to diagnose postpartum depression
With little currently being done to diagnose and treat postpartum depression in Guyana, the Women’s Health Unit at the Ministry of Health will be introducing a tool to help with diagnosis.
“We are introducing very soon a postpartum booklet so that would cover the woman’s postpartum health and we are going to be using the Edinburg screening tool for postpartum depression,” Women’s Health Coordinator, Dr. Umadai Rattan, told the News Room.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is the most commonly used depression screening tool in perinatal care.
It is a short 10-item self-report questionnaire designed to identify mothers at risk for prenatal and postpartum depression.
Dr. Rattan explained that after giving birth, mothers are only given a six-week check-up, but then nothing more is done in relation to the mother’s health.
“We have realised that the emphasis has always being placed on the woman when she is pregnant and after she would have gotten her last vaccination; we more than likely would not see her again, so we are trying to move away from that practice that we have in Guyana,” Dr. Rattan explained.
Dr. Rattan also revealed that it is sometimes difficult to diagnose persons with postpartum depression and as such the Unit now works with the Maternal and Child Health Department to promote safe motherhood, prior to delivery and after delivery.
“This includes mental health during the post-partum period,” Dr. Rattan said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that postpartum depression affects the mother and child relations and ultimately the child’s growth and development.
According to the WHO, this is a significant public health problem, which affects approximately 13% of women within a year of childbirth.
It is for this reason that the Unit is intervening and introducing a strategy to mitigate to impact of postpartum depression.
Meanwhile, the Unit has also been working to break barriers for women who cannot become pregnant, who do not want to be pregnant or those who silently suffer from health conditions that prevent pregnancy.
“So we are engaging in more women wellness clinics and hoping to establish them in each health facility across the country, so you could walk (in) and ask for a breast examination and when you can screen for cervical cancer,” Dr. Rattan said.
Additionally, the Unit will be teaching women about family planning as it relates to contraception and the importance of balancing physical, mental and financial health.
The Unit is also focusing on eliminating violence against women, which Dr. Rattan noted, has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.