Nura* was pregnant when she began to experience severe swelling in her body and increasing blood pressure levels. The local midwife recognised that Nura was suffering from preeclampsia, a complication during pregnancy that could cause damage to organs and adverse effects on both the mother and baby.
The respected older women in the village gave Nura the advice they had been given when they were pregnant: to restrict salt and fluid intake. But Nura knew that this advice, although well-meaning, was inaccurate. Earlier in her pregnancy, she had attended a pregnancy and childbirth seminar organised by Operation Mercy’s partner. At this seminar, she learned that it is important to drink plenty of water during pregnancy and to not eliminate salt from her diet. She also learned that increasing protein in her diet can help to prevent preeclampsia; as one of the early signs of preeclampsia is excess protein in the urine, many have mistakenly believed that, to prevent preeclampsia, pregnant women should avoid protein.
With this knowledge in hand, it is hoped that Nura and others who participated in the seminar will bring it back to share with their communities. Lack of access to proper information about health and reliance on old wives’ tales can be harmful. In remote areas like Nura’s village, good medical care is often not available or very difficult to access.
Educating disadvantaged communities about their health does not only prevent illnesses and improve their wellbeing, but it can also save lives.