Hamdiya's Story: Becoming an Advocate for Maternal Health
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Promoting maternal and child health care is a UNICEF priority —and collective responsibility.
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.
Like others in her community, Hamidya Imoro didn’t take antenatal care seriously.
She said her attitude changed after attending a Talking Book meeting.
“The message that caught my attention was about the need to participate in health services. By then I was pregnant again, so I started visiting the health center for antenatal care," Hamdiya explained.
"Late in my pregnancy, a 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. My son is alive because of it."
Hamdiya and her son in 2018
Engaging Families in Maternal and Child Health Care
Hamdiya listened to Talking Books through UNICEF Ghana’s Communication for Development (C4D) program. In the Upper West and Northern regions, Talking Books were deployed through a group listening and household rotation model. Because the device has a built-in speaker, families and groups can listen and learn together.
UNICEF Ghana’s Talking Books include messages to support key family practices, including maternal and child health, birth registration, kindergarten enrollment, child protection, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and more. Amplio Ghana produces the audio content in partnership with UNICEF and Ghana Health Service, an agency within the Ministry of Health. The project aims to engage and inform families, communities, and decision-makers about knowledge and healthy behaviors to improve maternal and child health, which is a global UNICEF priority.
Amplio has partnered with UNICEF Ghana since 2013.
Hamdiya with her children. Karaga District, Northern Region, Ghana
Maternal Health is a Collective Responsibility
Hamdiya said she has become an outspoken advocate for maternal and child health 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 the men in my 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 childbirth 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 childbirth. This should be a collective responsibility.”
In 2019, the introduction of Talking Books at Ghana health centers led to a significant increase in men’s participation in ANC visits and child welfare clinics. Learn more...