Promoting maternal and child health care is a UNICEF priority—and a collective responsibility.
“If my child was born at home, he would have been pronounced dead and buried alive.”
For the Dagomba people in Northern Ghana, it’s considered a sign of weakness if a woman doesn’t deliver her baby at home. She may even be viewed as being unfaithful to her husband. This belief has consequences. Many Dagomba women don’t participate in antenatal care visits, even if they’ve been engaged repeatedly through various interventions. Hamidya Imoro was no exception. Like others in her community, she didn’t take antenatal care seriously.
Hamdiya said her attitude changed when she attended a Talking Book meeting in 2018.
“The message that caught my attention was the need to participate in health services. By then I was pregnant again, so I started visiting the health center for antenatal care,” Hamdiya said. “Then, late in my pregnancy, the health center referred me to a hospital, because my condition was critical. The Talking Book advises us to follow the instructions of health professionals, so I obeyed. And my son is alive because of it.”
Engaging Families in Maternal and Child Health Care
Hamdiya listened to Talking Books through UNICEF’s Communication for Development (C4D) program in northern Ghana. In the Upper West and Northern regions, Talking Books are deployed through a group listening and household rotation model. Because the Talking Book device has a built-in speaker, groups of up to about 20 can listen and learn together. So, Talking Books are frequently used for facilitating community dialogues. In addition, Talking Books are shared among households, so community members and families can listen when and where it’s convenient.
For UNICEF Ghana’s C4D program Talking Book content includes maternal and child health information and related topics, including birth registration, kindergarten enrollment, child protection, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and more. Amplio Ghana produces local language audio messages in partnership with UNICEF and Ghana Health Service, an agency within the Ministry of Health. The goal is to promote the engagement of children, families, communities, and decision makers towards achieving positive social and behavior change to reduce infant and maternal mortality and improve good health and well-being (SDG 3).
Improving maternal and child health is a global UNICEF priority. To that, Amplio has partnered with UNICEF Ghana to deliver community health education since 2013.
Hamdiya advocates for maternal and child health care in her community. Karaga District, Ghana
Maternal Health is a Collective Responsibility
Today, Hamdiya is a passionate advocate for maternal and child health care in her community.
“I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who worked to save my baby. Now I always advise pregnant women to get antenatal care at the health center. I tell men in the community to listen to the Talking Book—and that I will personally query them if their wives deliver at home,” she said.
“The Talking Book has become a good source of information that is breaking down certain myths and traditions surrounding child birth in the community. Now we need a message to encourage husbands to take their wives to the clinic from time to time during pregnancy and child birth. This should be a collective responsibility.”
Editor’s Note: In 2019, Amplio partnered with UNICEF Ghana and the Jirapa Municipal Health Directorate to conduct a Talking Book program at 15 Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds in underserved communities. The project aimed 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 health decisions. Talking Books are linked to a significant increase in the men’s participation in antenatal care visits and child welfare clinics.
You can read about the project here.
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