My Journey

31 January 2016 (All day) to 31 May 2016 (All day)

Born on the west coast of Africa, Madina, a suburb of the capital of Ghana. I am the last of three children and together with our parents, grew up in a family of 5. Growing up, the first thing mother did when she woke us up was to check our palms, our tongue, underneath our tongue and underneath our eye balls. I always used to wonder what she was looking for so one day I asked her and she said "blood". I thought that was weird, until I grew up to understand that she was anemic during pregnancy and due to her condition, had lots of complications during pregnancy and at child birth. Her first child, my late sister, suffered the most. She faced all the developmental challenges of an anemic child. Pursuing a degree in Nutrition gave me more insight and understanding of iron deficiency anemia.

I moved to the US to further my studies and gets to visit home periodically in hopes to move back soon to apply knowledge acquired to the benefit of my Motherland. During my stay in Ghana, I got the chance to work in a hospital on the eastern part of the Country, I did nutrition education at the Reproductive and Child Health clinic and had the chance to educate mothers on nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. It was there that I encountered a lot of iron deficient anemic pregnant mothers. Anemia in pregnancy is defined by WHO as a hemoglobin concentration below 11g/dl (WHO,1992). Anemia is a global problem for both developed and developing countries. According to WHO (2008) the global prevalence of anemia in pregnant women worldwide was 68% and in Africa it was estimated to be 66.8%. Consequence of anemia during pregnancy includes stillbirths, low birth weight, preterm births, reduced work capacity, decreased mental performance, low tolerance to infection, death from anemic heart failure and maternal deaths due to uncontrolled bleeding. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common cause of anemia in pregnancy worldwide. Grand multiparity, low socioeconomic status, malaria, infection, late booking, HIV infection and inadequate child spacing among others are some of the predisposing factors. Poor dietary iron intake and/or absorption causes 50% of anemia as well as poor dietary intake or absorption of vitamin A, B12 and folate compromises red blood cell production. Policy makers often fail to recognize the massive economic cost and health consequence of anemia to children. It causes permanent cognitive defect denying their right to full mental and emotional development even before they start schooling.

There is a need to create awareness on the magnitude of anemia in pregnancy in our environment and also formulate strategies that can help curb its adverse health consequence in order to improve maternal health and reduce perinatal outcome. I would like to Increase knowledge and awareness on the consequence of anemia during pregnancy among women of childbearing age and educate on food diversification, dietary modification and supplementation. I am also interested in non-communicable diseases in Africa and how to prepare to meet the rising challenges.