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‘Innovative’ Awareness Campaigns On Maternal Health Will Push Progress In Ghana

Despite international praise for Ghana’s successful economic growth and its “reputation as a beacon of democracy in Africa,” “4,000 women die every year and over 200,000 are disabled due to pregnancy-related complications,” Kwesi Owusu, executive producer of the Maternal Health Channel television series, writes in a CNN opinion piece. “So how can a country that basks in so much international acclaim be failing its expectant mothers and their children so badly, and what can we do to improve the situation?” he asks, writing, “For a start we have to better understand the social and cultural dimensions of maternal healthcare in Ghana and similarly under-developed countries. And we must respond to them.”

Owusu describes how the Maternal Health Channel is addressing challenges such as “overcrowded hospitals, poor facilities and an acute shortage of qualified staff,” “[b]ad roads and poor transport links,” as well as a shortage of ambulances. “The first two shows … provoked a huge response from viewers” and health leaders, he states, adding, “When the phone lines were opened, callers broadly agreed that a new partnership was needed between government, the hospitals, and the community, and that it was important to complement behavioral change with new policies. Critically, the hospitals urgently need more skilled personnel and improved facilities.” Owusu concludes, “So, although we may miss the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent by 2015, I firmly believe that by being more innovative in our campaigning we can start to turn the corner on this and so many other critical health care issues in the years ahead” (3/25).