They gather together—a committee of five women and five men from the community—and discuss safe motherhood issues. They gather to motivate and encourage everyone in their community, women and men alike, on the importance of accessing vital maternal health services.
For the last three years, Presbyterian World Service & Development has been working with communities in Malawi to address issues of high maternal and child mortality rates. One major priority is ensuring that men understand the necessity of their pregnant wives going to the hospital or clinic to deliver their baby, as well as before and after the baby is born.
Placing a high focus on improving access to healthcare, as well as increasing knowledge on the necessity of seeking medical care, encouragement from these safe motherhood committees is making a huge difference to the health of communities.
Change is Happening
In Kayereka village in northern Malawi, Jesse Mtika shares how this focus on maternal health has impacted her community. “We have seen a great change. Women used to deliver their babies in the bush, but that isn’t happening any more. We no longer use native herbs to induce labour because now we know how harmful it is.”
Through PWS&D’s maternal and child health program, women are being empowered to be proactive on issues of their own health. Because men and women are also learning about healthy diets, nutrition has improved. Couples receive HIV testing, so that they know their status and can receive treatment if necessary. Both men and women are taking actives roles in family planning.
Jesse explains one other benefit of the program. Now that husbands are learning about issues related to pregnancy, they now understand that their wives cravings are neither selfish demands nor excuses to have expensive food. “They used to not understand when we wanted something, but now if we send them for a banana, they understand it’s a craving and go and get it,” she shares with a smile.
*PWS&D’s maternal and child health program receives generous funding from the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.