Relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not scientifically proven
Acausal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not scientifically proven, Psychosocial support for pregnant women and for families with microcephaly and other neurological complications in the context of Zika virus as Interim guidance for health-care providers.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), the guidance for a supportive response by healthcare providers e.g. physicians, nurses, focusing primarily on women affected by Zika virus infection during pregnancy and their families, for their mental health and psychosocial needs.
When caring for pregnant women, it is important to involve trusted people who can support them. These may be the woman’s partner, her friends or family members. All healthcare providers need accurate information when providing support to women with Zika virus infection during pregnancy, stated the WHO.
Providing accurate information about a largely unknown communicable disease and its suspected effects is important not only for public health reasons but also because it can reduce anxiety in people and their communities.
The diagnosis and management of microcephaly and other neurological disorders are immediate concerns for healthcare providers. The way a healthcare provider assesses and manages these health conditions can have an impact on the psychosocial well-being of patients and their families. As stigma is a concern, it is important to ensure confidentiality of any information and care provided.
According to WHO, in normal times, on average one in five women presents symptoms of distress during pregnancy or after childbirth. Women who have contracted Zika virus infection during pregnancy or who are told their child may have or has microcephaly may be even more likely to develop symptoms of distress.
Some examples of symptoms of distress includes irritability, anger; Guilt, shame; insomnia, nightmares; physical symptoms (shaking, headaches, feeling very tired, loss of appetite, aches and pains) without an organic cause; crying, sadness, depressed mood, grief; excessive worries; anxiety and fear.
The person’s concerns about their pregnancy and their baby might cause them a lot of stress. Concerns about Zika in pregnant women and/ or microcephaly may also cause social problems in families and communities e.g. stigma, discrimination, abandonment. According to WHO, the health providers need some strategies to help them to reduce stress? The strategies includes
encourage coping through problem solving like linking the woman to social services and resources in the community to address any social problems that can be addressed by the social sector; use problem-solving techniques to help the person address major stressors, such as discrimination.
Moreover, it also includes work together with the client to brainstorm solutions and coping strategies for identified problems, prioritize them, and discuss how to implement these solutions and strategies; when stressors cannot be solved or reduced, problem-solving techniques may be used to identify ways to emotionally cope with the stressor. In general, do not give direct advice. Try to encourage the person to develop their own solutions.
But health care provider should discourage tobacco, alcohol and drug use as a way of coping
For instance tobacco, alcohol and drugs should be avoided during pregnancy and in breastfeeding mothers because they are harmful for their babies; tobacco, alcohol and drugs can cause a range of health problems, stated the WHO.