Using Talking Book to Engage Parents at Rural Health Centers
Ghana has made some progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, but there’s still more work to do. According to UNICEF, about 70 babies lose their lives every day. This is mainly due to premature birth, infections, and complications during and after delivery. In spite of the availability of skilled antenatal care and birth attendants at health facilities during delivery, newborn and maternal deaths remain high.
In northern Ghana, where the Talking Book is used, many communities face barriers to quality health information and services, including lack of infrastructure, low literacy, and traditional gender norms and biases that can limit women’s decision making power. Men often control the household decision making and finances, which can dictate whether mothers and children are able to seek medical care.
This can present an obstacle to development organizations hoping to provide mothers with access to the information and services to help them have a safe pregnancy and delivery. Without the involvement of the father, mothers may not be able to act on the information they’ve received or make it to care appointments.
Involving men in pregnancy and child care is important to ensuring better maternal and child health. In fact, UNICEF identifies male involvement as a key practice to help improve outcomes. Sharing maternal, newborn, and child health information with both fathers and mothers is one way to increase involvement.
Community health nurses use Talking Books to share ANC and CWC messages at CHPS compounds.
Photo: Fidelis Da-Uri
Talking Book Listening Program added to CHPS
In Jirapa, in the Upper West Region of Ghana, Literacy Bridge Ghana partnered with UNICEF Ghana and the Jirapa Municipal Health Directorate to launch a Talking Book listening program at 15 Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds in underserved communities. The program seeks to educate and engage both men and women, by providing access to local language audio messaging about maternal, newborn, and child health, hygiene and sanitation, child protection, and other topics.
CHPS community health nurses, midwives, volunteers, and staff use Talking Books to play educational messages in group listening sessions followed by discussion, as well as in interactive one-on-one settings. CHPS center waiting areas also have Talking Books available for use.
The CHPS Talking Book program, which launched in February 2019, is being implemented in five CHPS zones: Sigri, Gbari, Die, Ul-kpon, and Doggo/Konzokala. Each zone has three outreach centers, covering a total of fifteen communities.
The program actively tries to engage men, not only to educate men on the importance of maternal and child health but also to encourage dialogue between couples when making important health decisions.
Involving Fathers Yields Positive Results
According to Literacy Bridge Ghana, participation in the Talking Book listening sessions has made men more aware of the importance of being involved in the health of their wives and children.
Toffic Dapilaah, LBG’s Monitoring & Evaluation Officer, says that they hope to use this trend to spur greater engagement from men, and that they’re sharing success stories at Talking Book listening and discussion sessions. “We try to take advantage of every meeting we have in the communities to highlight how some men are taking the lead in this regard as a way of encouraging their fellow men to do the same.”
The successful involvement of men in this program means that families are more firmly committed to health and safety. Many participants have become agents of change in their own communities by sharing the information they have learned. This increases the likelihood of long-term behavior change, which helps to advance UNICEF’s mission to ensure the rights and well-being of every child.
UNICEF Ghana’s Talking Book Listening Program for Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS)
UNICEF Ghana, Literacy Bridge Ghana, Jirapa Municipal Health Directorate
Antenatal Care Services messages
Child Welfare Clinics messages
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Postcards from the Field
Literacy Bridge Ghana specializes in Talking Book technology and support, social behavior change communication, and audio content creation. Learn more here.