Re­la­tion­ship be­tween Zika in­fec­tion dur­ing preg­nancy and mi­cro­cephaly is strongly sus­pected, though not sci­en­tif­i­cally proven

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Pen­jor

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.

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