Making it Happen: Young Champion of Maternal Health Launches Project in Nigeria

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In 2009, the Maternal Health Task Force partnered with Ashoka to launch the first ever international fellowship focused specifically on maternal health. We called it the Young Champions of Maternal Health.  Ifeyinwa Madu Egwaoje, a young woman from Nigeria, had an idea for a project that landed her in the position of being among the first Young Champions. Her idea was about increasing access to maternal and neonatal health care through a combination of home-based antenatal care, birth planning, rigorous training of health workers to be first responders for obstetric emergencies, and improved referral systems in rural Nigeria.

Now, just a couple of years later, Ifeyinwa Madu Egwaoje is putting her idea into action. In an article, Implementing my Ashoka Idea, published on the Huffington Post yesterday, Egwaoje describes the maternal health situation in Evboroko community in Nigeria, and discusses her current project, Birthing Project Nigeria, that aims to improve access and quality of maternal and neonatal health care for the women and newborns of Evboroko.

The thrills and joy of expecting a new baby can be overwhelming for a lot of couples, especially first-time parents. The excitement comes with breaking the news to family and friends, deciding what birth plan to go for, reading up articles and books about the stages of pregnancy, choosing what midwife and doctor will carry out the delivery, making and going for prenatal appointments. Spending time on the internet getting information. Getting to know the sex of the baby, buying fancy clothes and accessories, organizing luxury baby showers and generally planning for the arrival of your bundle of joy.

In a situation where there is no internet to get information about pregnancy, no books to read or doctors and midwives to make prenatal appointments. No money to organize luxury baby showers. No scan machines. No fancy baby clothes for your bundle of joy. The birthing process is no longer a period of excitement but one of burden, fear, uncertainty and sometimes near-death experiences. For the women who live in Evboroko Community in Edo State, this is the stark reality of their lives.

Read the full story here.

For updates on Ifeyinwa Madu Egwaoje and the Birthing Project Nigeria, follow Egwaoje on Twitter: @IfeyinwaEgwaoje

For information on the Young Champions of Maternal Health program, stay tuned to here.