Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, specifically pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (PE/E), are the second biggest killer of pregnant women globally and remains the least understood and most challenging maternal morbidity to manage. Although great strides were made in reducing maternal and newborn mortality between 1990 and 2015, this was clearly not enough to achieve the global health goals. To reduce maternal deaths: 1) early detection of PE needs to be improved; 2) effective management of PE/E needs to occur at lower health system levels and should encourage timely care-seeking; and 3) prioritizing the scale up of a comprehensive package of services near to where women live.
This commentary describes a pragmatic approach to test scalable and sustainable strategies for expanding access to quality under-utilized maternal health commodities, interventions and services. We present a primary health care (PHC) PE/E Model based on implementation research on identified gaps in care in several countries, accepted global best practice and built on the basic premise that PHC providers can take on additional skills with adequate capacity building, coaching and supervision, and community members desire control over their own health. The PHC PE/E model displays the linkages and opportunities to prevent and treat PE/E in a simplified way; however, there are numerous interlinking factors, angles, and critical points to consider including leadership, policies and protocols; relevant medicines and commodities, ongoing capacity building strategies at lower levels and understanding what women and their communities want for safe pregnancies.
The PHC model described here uses PE/E as an entry to improve the quality of ANC and by extension the pregnancy continuum. Bringing preventive and treatment services nearer to where pregnant women live makes sense.