The ‘MamaCare’ midwives of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa deliver classes in primary healthcare centres, hospitals, and at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, which are a peace and security frontline for displaced, vulnerable and traumatised women and their infants. Despite dire mortality rates in Nigeria – where women face around a one in thirteen risks of maternal mortality in their lifetime – we have not lost even one of our over 250,000 MamaCare mothers during childbirth.
Our MamaCare midwives have achieved this not only by providing classes to a global standard – orienting health-seeking behaviour and improving Nigeria’s progress towards the WHO benchmark recommendation of at least 8 antenatal visits which the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s Reproductive Health Lifeprint achieves – but also because they act as even more than lifesavers. They provide safe spaces and safe conversations: no subject is taboo or off-limits. They can only do this because they are part of the community that they serve. Too often, global institutions have faced push-back when trying to deliver services – examples that stand out to me include vaccinations and family planning provisions – because they attempt to do so as outsiders, without the trust of a community.
Placing midwives at the centre of our work gave us an army of professional community counsellors which has helped to drive the behavioural change to make women an empowered and informed partner. Midwives are the interlocutors between our Foundation, its aims, and women.