Awareness on Common Perinatal Mental Disorders (CPMD) among girls and women: A challenge for Physician education and practice

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In Rwanda, despite the abortion law amendment that further liberalized the law, women are almost entirely unable to access legal or safe abortions due to educational, social, and legal barriers.

 

This is a widespread problem, as an estimated 47 percent of pregnancies in Rwanda are unintended and 22 percent of those end in induced abortion, and the rest have to carry the pregnancy.

As a result, CPMDs are the most prevalent mental disorders during the perinatal period and these include depression and anxiety occurring in pregnancy and postnatal period especially in young people. CPMDs are a significant public health concern, often undiagnosed and thus untreated.

 

Depression and anxiety contribute to the high burden of health risks faced by mothers and their offspring around birth in LMICs such as child malnutrition and infant stunting, less responsive parenting, less infant stimulation, Increased infant exposure to negative life events, etc…, Medical Doctors For Choice (MDFC) believes CPMDs can be reduced through the simple provision of health promotion interventions.

In a descriptive quantitative cross-sectional survey done found the most common factors of CPMDS in Rwanda to be Relationship with husband/partner, the age where young girls 15-19 years are more likely to have perinatal depression than those aged 35 or more, level of education, and a number of children.

In the response to the magnitude of this problem, MDFC held a series of talks with physicians especially members to discuss the occurrence and factors of CPMDs in Rwanda, the implications or challenges to address the issue. The workshops also aim at exploring if physicians are aware of this issue, providing continuous professional development & in-service training to ensure that they are skilled and competent in recognizing risk factors, detecting & intervening in early CPMDs.

 

CPMD sessions have different content including, mentorship on screening tools, awareness, and medical doctors’ ability to Screen for CPMDs during pregnancy care to foresee/plan for early detection & interventions. By understanding the magnitude of perinatal mental disorders, our members are gradually understanding their role of being proactively engaged in advancing access to essential SRHR services such as modern contraceptives, family planning, legal safe abortion, and post-abortion care, and comprehensive SRHR education.