The following is part of a series of project updates from the Department of Community Medicine at Rajarata University of Sri Lanka. MHTF is supporting their project, Measuring Economic Impact of Maternal Morbidity. More information on MHTF supported projects can be found here.
Research training and academic research agenda is often far from the countries health requirements. On the other hand, policy making is based on political agenda, rather than research evidence in most of the developing countries. As an academic department, The Department of Community Medicine, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka initiated incorporation of research training and health needs of the community with the help of Maternal Health Task Force of EngenderHealth.
Undergraduate medical trainees are involved in various research activities as a part of their training. In resource poor settings like Sri Lanka, students often spent out of pocket for these studies. Further, most of the studies are not based on actual health requirement in communities. We introduced the prevailing problems of maternal ill health in Anuradhapra area to students undertaking research projects and encourage them to study various aspects of maternal morbidities that could be useful for policy makers. As a result, three student groups conducted studies on knowledge on antenatal and postnatal morbidities among pregnant mothers and their spouse which would be very useful in local programme planning.
As a part of field data collection training, another batch of students collected data on Postpartum Depression (PPD) in 18 out of 24 districts in Sri Lanka using providing Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. According to this study prevalence of PPD was, 27.1% (404/1492). Of the 404 mother who had PPD symptoms 48 had suicidal thoughts. Further this study reported statistically significant association between income and PPD. Prevalence of PPD from lowest to highest income groups was 32.6%, 30.6%, 23.5% and 22.4% respectively. Adolescent mothers, elderly mothers, primiparus mothers and mother with more than 3 pregnancies were also found to be associated with PPD in Sri Lanka. The primary objective of this data collection was field data collection training. However, this exercise provided invaluable information about PPD in Sri Lanka that was lacking.