Advocacy International advises a consortium led by OPTIONS UK on an advocacy campaign – MamaYe! – to increase maternal and newborn survival in Ghana. The MamaYe coalition in Ghana is led by Prof Adanu of the School of Public Health, and Vicky Okine of the Alliance of Reproductive Health Rights. Recently the MamaYe coalition appealed to Ghanaian MPs for an increase in spending on maternal and newborn health.
What chances are there of success for this campaign?
First, it is important to note that Ghana has halved levels of poverty since 1992. In that year, nearly 52% of Ghanaians lived in poverty. By 2006 Ghanians living in poverty had been halved to 28%, according to the World Bank.
The challenge Ai faced when “cutting the diamond” on the MamaYe campaign was this: how to deepen the engagement of African men and women in this issue? How to raise the engagement of the African public, and thereby to raise expectations of survival of both mothers and newborns?
We were convinced that only when the African public in the countries with highest mortality rates, is full engaged, and there is widespread expectation that women and newborns must survive and thrive after childbirth – only then will attitudes, policies and practices change, and maternal mortality rates in African countries decline. If African politicians and policy makers are to be held to account for the survival of mothers and newborns – then public expectations must rise too. But how to engage the public? There are several answers to this question, but the one that required the most direct engagement, sacrifice and voluntary activity was: blood donation.
Blood deficits contribute to around 34% of maternal deaths and near misses in Africa. However, Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest quantity of blood donated for transfusion per person in the world.
The Tanzanian MamaYe campaign, working with the National Blood Transfusion Service (NTBS), Arusha regional Hospital, and the Red Cross,was the first to mount a major blood recruitment and donation campaign, in January, 2013. Continue Reading
Reframing the issue away from failure, despair and mortality – and towards solutions, success and survival.
As part of our work advising a UKAid- funded consortium whose aim is to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in five African countries, Ai had to think of ways of engaging Africa’s men and women in the complex issue of maternal and newborn health. This is an issue that requires a spectrum of care – from the time that young girls reach reproductive age right through to maturity; and from conception to well after a child is born.
Ai’s team has invaluable experience of engaging the public in complex issues – engagement which results in positive policy change at the highest levels.
Below is an outline of how the public were engaged in the complex issue of sovereign debt between 1994 and 2000 – and the impact of this public mobilisation on the policies of governments and international institutions. And in the next blog, we will explain how Ai has advised the British government on engaging the public in five of Africa’s poorest countries in the complex issue of maternal and newborn survival.