Nurses to walk 407 km for maternal health

Improved Midwifery Care Access Initiative (Imcai) Malawi has joined the What Women Want global advocacy campaign to strengthen health systems, improve quality maternal and reproductive healthcare for women and girls.

Officially launched on April 11, 2018, the campaign sets out to sensitise one million women and girls worldwide about maternal and reproductive health services as a top priority by the end of 2018.

Some of the nurse midwives taking the 407 kilometre walk

“What Women Want Campaign and our Imcai have a similar aim; to improve quality maternal and reproductive health. The findings of this campaign will not only help governments and health professionals, but also civil society organisations to better understand what is most important to women and girls when it comes to their healthcare. It will also help push for change within countries and communities,” said Daniel Kawaye, Imcai Malawi founder and executive director.

Imcai has organised a 16-day maternal health awareness campaign between May 25 and June 9 2018 to create maternal health awareness in the country.

Under the campaign, six nurses and midwives will take a 407 kilometre walk from Blantyre through Zomba, to Lilongwe for 12 days.

“The big walk will be done by a team of six nurse midwives. We will have some outreach points along the road in selected girls secondary schools and market places to reach out to girls and women. On the last day, we will have Midwifery Open Day at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe. Banja La Mtsogolo will offer free HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) services, family planning pills and condoms.

“The White Ribbon Alliance will help mobilise women and girls to take part in the What Women Want Campaign; and Light House Trust will offer breast and cervical cancer screening,” he said.

Lloyd Pitolias, a nurse midwife working with Ministry of Health at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre is among those taking the 12-day walk.

“It’s my dream to retain girls in schools, but we are failing as a nation because the girls lack age-appropriate reproductive health information and utilization of services. This walk is aimed at delivering such type of information to help adolescents in preventing teenage pregnancies. Giving them better information concerning maternal health can help to build a better Malawi as more will concentrate on education,” said Pitolias.

He also noted that the awareness, through this walk, will help to equip women with knowledge of good maternal health practices and help reduce maternal death rates.

The 16-day campaign will also help improve health seeking behaviour among the youth, helping them to fully utilise the basic health package as well as to improve behavior change and awareness to reduce risky behaviour.

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