The Big Questions
With Ivy Prosper
What's your connection to maternal health and how did you get involved?
I was the host and roving reporter for a television series that aired in Ghana and parts of West Africa called The Maternal Health Channel Television Series. We traveled across the country documenting stories of women who had either lost their lives or suffered complications during childbirth. It was a series that had the whole nation talking about what can be done to improve the lives of pregnant women. I was actually nominated for Host of the Year by the RTP Awards in Ghana for my work on the program.
I've lent my voice to the conversation about maternal health whenever I can. For example, I partnered with for Mothers on a panel they presented during the Women in the World Summit in New York City in 2016. Most recently, I'm developing a small business of selling handbags and other African crafts with a portion of the proceeds going towards maternal health needs in Ghana.
What does maternal care mean to you and what caused you to become such a strong advocate?
Maternal care is about providing a woman with the comfort and peace of mind knowing that being pregnant is not a possible death sentence. It's critical to give her the sense that she has all the tools to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
To be honest, I never imagined I would end up being an advocate for maternal health. Especially since I have never had any children of my own. I was hesitant at first because I thought maybe people wouldn't think I had a voice on the issue because I've never been a mother. Once I was on the ground seeing the atrocities women experience, I felt compelled to continue being an advocate for women's maternal health rights.
What positive developments have you seen in maternal care recently?
Utilizing mobile technology has been one of the best things for women in rural communities. Mobile apps have given women the ability to learn as well as keep in contact with their midwives, doctors or nurses. Zero Mothers Die is one app that uses SMS messages to teach women some of the essential things needed in order to have a healthy pregnancy. The Mobile Midwife app even has prerecorded messages to help women. Some of these apps even provide simple teaching tools for healthcare professionals to learn how to handle life-threatening situations during and after childbirth.
What improvements still need to be made?
Most of the issues are often involving infrastructure, access to resources and education. Many women in developing countries live two hours from the closest hospital or medical facility. Often nearing to get there by foot or motorcycle. With poor roads and limited facilities, governments need to be more involved in bridging the gap that puts women's lives and their unborn children at risk.
Every pregnant woman deserves to have access to quality care. It's my hope that over the next 10 years we will see greater improvements in access to medical care that will not only save their lives, but also the lives of their children.