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Maternal Mental Health Should Be Priority On Global Agenda

Writing in the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, Sara Gorman, an MPH candidate at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, examines the need for an increased focus on improving maternal mental health. “Integrating mental health programs with maternal health programs is not only as important in saving mothers’ lives as screening for malaria and treating HIV in pregnant women but it could also prove essential in achieving two distinct but interrelated Millennium Development Goals [MDGs]: improving maternal health and reducing the number of deaths in children under the age of five,” Gorman writes, noting that the MDG to improve maternal health has shown “particularly slow progress,” especially in sub-Saharan Africa. She discusses “some reasons why maternal mental health is not a high priority on maternal health agendas,” and states, “International donors and stakeholders should be made aware of the dire effects of maternal depression on maternal and child health and should be encouraged to provide funds and aid specifically for maternal mental health. In particular, the evidence for the effects of mental health on physical health should be emphasized in communication with international donors” (9/11).