The health and survival of women during pregnancy and childbirth is an important issue throughout the world, but particularly for rural families in resource-poor countries. The 5th Millennium Development Goal adopted by the world in the year 2000 is to improve maternal health by reducing the incidence of maternal mortality by 75%, and by achieving universal access to reproductive health services. Tragically, this MDG remains elusive, particularly the target of reducing maternal mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, where a woman’s risk of dying from treatable or preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth over the course of her lifetime is 1 in 22, compared to 1 in 7,300 in countries like Canada.
In 2007, long-time Farm Radio International supporter Anne Burnett offered us a way to address the challenge of maternal health by producing radio scripts on the topic. We readily agreed, and made contact with Family Health International (www.fhi.org) – an organization that specializes in maternal health – to help us understand the most important messages that radio can provide to prevent maternal death. We learned that two factors are critical to help save expectant mothers’ lives. One is that the couple make advance arrangements to give birth in a health facility with a skilled attendant. A second is that both partners – mother and father – be involved in making plans and preparations for the birth.
To help illustrate these messages, we asked one of our freelance scriptwriters – Lazarus Lazer in Tanzania – to identify a couple that was planning to have a child and interview them regularly throughout the course of the pregnancy as they make plans and preparations for the birth of their child. The result is a very stirring series of “reality radio” scripts. The series chronicles the story of a Maasai couple as they decide to have a child, adjust to pregnancy and the prospects of parenthood, and make plans for the birth of their child.
The first installment in the series appeared recently in Farm Radio Weekly: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/05/18/let%e2%80%99s-talk-about-it-a-young-couple-plans-pregnancy-and-childbirth/.
One new episode will be released each week until the series is complete. We’re excited about this new approach to radio scripts – bringing real-life, personal testimonies of ordinary villagers making decisions, trying new approaches, and overcoming challenges.