Uniting a community around its mothers

January 11, 2016
Photo by Stephen Morrison

Watch our short video on the cultural shifts the Community Benefits Health program is creating in Ghana’s Upper West region.

During Zumatiere Yiryo’s first pregnancy, she continued to farm in the fields the entire nine months, she fetched firewood and cooked and she carried water many kilometers every day. Having never been to a health center in her life, she visited the “witchdoctor” weekly and drank the herbal concoctions he provided. When it came time to deliver in her home with only the help of her mother-in-law, complications arose and on the tenth day, her baby died.

Yiryo’s story is common in rural communities like hers in Ghana’s Upper West region. To increase the chances of survival of mothers and babies, Community Benefits Health — a pilot of our Innovations for Maternal Newborn & Child Health initiative — aims to make antenatal and post-delivery care, facility delivery, and exclusive breastfeeding common practice. The program combines robust health education messaging with non-financial incentives that benefit the entire community, such as water pumps and emergency vehicles. And it targets not just women but the influencers in their lives, such as husbands and mothers-in-law, making the health of pregnant women and newborns the concern of every community member.

To hear how Yiryo’s pregnancy is different this time and how the program is changing her village, watch our new video on Community Benefits Health.

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