The development and evaluation of a health education programme for pregnant women in a regional hospital, southern Thailand
The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Thailand is higher than neighbouring developing countries including Malaysia and Singapore. The 1993 MMR of Thailand was 249 per 100 000 livebirths which was four times higher than the rates in Malaysia and Singapore (World Health Organization 1995). The major causes of these deaths were haemorrhage, toxaemia of pregnancy and sepsis which were likely to be prevented by adequate prenatal care (Thailand Ministry of Public Health 1996). A large proportion of Thai pregnant women have poor health. Between 1994 and 1995, a national study conducted by Thailand Ministry of Health showed that 39% of pregnant women were anaemic, defined as haemoglobin concentration lower than 33% (Supamethaporn 1997). Another study conducted in the southern region also indicated that 13·8% of pregnant women were anaemic caused by iron deficiency (Phatthanapreechakulet al. 1997). Other behaviours which increased risks associated with child birth included non-antenatal care (ANC) attendance, undertaking physically demanding tasks and failure to increase nutritional intake during their pregnancy period (N. Phiriyanuphong et al. 1992, unpublished report). These factors emphasize the importance of a health education programme which could facilitate women to, for example, increase protein and iron intake during pregnancy which would reduce complications from their poor health status. This study was conducted in a regional hospital in Thailand where there was no systematic and well-planned health education programme for pregnant women. The initial aim was to design a health education programme using input from the hospital health care professionals including obstetricians, nurses, nutritionists, health educators and health promoters. An active involvement of these personnel assisted to sustain the provision of the programme provided for pregnant women after the cessation of the study project. Another aim of the study was to evaluate the outcomes of the programme using a pre-test–post-test method among selected pregnant women who participated in the newly designed health education programme.