In our work, we seek to address the ‘three delays’ that contribute to maternal mortality:
(i) delays in the decision to seek care;
(ii) delays in women being able to reach care and
(iii) delay in receiving care.
We also acknowledge that obstacles to reducing maternal mortality exist at the health policy level in both developing countries and in the international development policies of governments that give aid. Obstacles can often include a lack of financing for maternal health provision, a lack of family planning services and limited focus on recruitment and training of midwives.
In order to address these challenges, we advocate for change with a variety of decision makers and in a variety of ways. We believe strongly that advocacy should be based on the reality of pregnant women’s lives and seek to share their stories directly where we can.
Local level advocacy – in community health centres and regional Government Offices
In the countries where we work, our staff and volunteers work closely with colleagues in hospitals and health centres to improve health planning provision so that women can receive the best care available within the existing budgets. It is also at this level that our clinical advisors (midwives and doctors) promote an integrated approach to the three delays model which places equal emphasis on all three areas.
National level advocacy
We also aim to have good links with Ministry of Health Officials in capital cities. These links allow us to align our work with the plans of the government, collaborate with them on addressing gaps and develop a relationship that promotes on-going learning of good practice lessons that can be used in other parts of the country.
In the UK, we work predominantly in partnership with other agencies who are also seeking to address maternal mortality. The main coalition we are linked to is called the ‘Manifesto for Motherhood’, a group of approximately 20 International Non-Governmental Organisations who came together in late 2009/2010 in the run up to the UK General Election in May 2011. The group successfully raised awareness of maternal mortality with politicians in the new coalition Government who subsequently committed their support in the development of a Framework for Results for improving reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the developing world – ‘Choices for Women: planned pregnancies, safe births and healthy newborns.’ The coalition continues to work together to review progress made against the framework, liaising closely with the Department for International Development and politicians interested in the issues.