Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest maternal mortality ratio at 500 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Mozambique maternal mortality is estimated at 249-480 per 100,000 live births and eclampsia is the third leading cause of death. The objective of this study was to describe the community understanding of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, as a crucial step to improve maternal and perinatal health in southern Mozambique.
This qualitative study was conducted in Maputo and Gaza Provinces of southern Mozambique. Twenty focus groups were convened with pregnant women, partners and husbands, matrons and traditional birth attendants, and mothers and mothers-in-law. In addition, ten interviews were conducted with traditional healers, matrons, and a traditional birth attendant. All discussions were audio-recorded, translated from local language (Changana) to Portuguese and transcribed verbatim prior to analysis with QSR NVivo 10. A thematic analysis approach was taken.
The conditions of "pre-eclampsia" and "eclampsia" were not known in these communities; however, participants were familiar with hypertension and seizures in pregnancy. Terms linked with the biomedical concept of pre-eclampsia were high blood pressure, fainting disease and illness of the heart, whereas illness of the moon, snake illness, falling disease, childhood illness, illness of scaresand epilepsy were used to characterizeeclampsia. The causes of hypertension in pregnancy were thought to include mistreatment by in-laws, marital problems, and excessive worrying. Seizures in pregnancy were believed to be caused by a snake living inside the woman's body. Warning signs thought to be common to both conditions were headache, chest pain, weakness, dizziness, fainting, sweating, and swollen feet.
Local beliefs in southern Mozambique, regarding the causes, presentation, outcomes and treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia were not aligned with the biomedical perspective. The community was often unaware of the link between hypertension and seizures in pregnancy. The numerous widespread myths and misconceptions concerning pre-eclampsia and eclampsiamay induceinappropriatetreatment-seeking and demonstrate a need for increased community education regarding pregnancy and associated complications.