29 April 2014

Liberia: Maternal Health and the Role of the Media

Photo: Tiggy Ridley/IRIN
A pregnant woman is given a routine check-up at a donor-funded health clinic in Monrovia.

Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. It encompasses the health care dimensions of family planning, preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care in order to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. The risk associated with maternal and child health is enormous but little efforts are being made to remedy the problem of maternal deaths. There is limited awareness on Maternal and child health in Liberia and across Africa.

There are biases against maternal health, which limit education, health promotion, screening and other interventions among women of reproductive age. Due to the lack of education and health promotion on maternal and child health, future pregnancies are affected as a result of high risk factors emanating from inadequate awareness.

Information on prenatal and postnatal care is not forthcoming from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, which is denying pregnant women and the public from knowing about these health issues. As a major component of maternal and child health, the goal of prenatal care is to detect any potential complications of pregnancy early, to prevent them if possible, and to direct the woman to appropriate specialist medical services while postnatal care issues include recovery from childbirth, concerns about newborn care, nutrition, breastfeeding, and family planning.

Liberian health authorities are more concern about creating awareness on HIV&AIDS, malaria and Ebola, among other sicknesses that have ripple effect but failed to say whether these deceases can also harm pregnant women. In Liberia, pregnant women fall sick and sometimes died during childbirth due to malaria, diarrhea, HIV & AIDS, among others due to lack of education on maternal and child health.

The media being watchdog of society has a pivoted role to play in helping to educate the public on maternal health issues. Due to the lack of knowledge and information on the causes and effects of maternal and child health, pregnant women died during and sometimes after child birth. There are a number of factors that affect maternal health, which the media can use to create awareness as a way of preventing maternal mortality. Poverty and limited access to healthcare is dangerous to the health of both mother and child. It is an open secret that pregnant women or baby mothers living in abject poverty easily engage in drug use, cigarette smoking and other anti societal behaviors, which denied the child access to good parental care. The media and health institutions in Africa especially sub-Sahara Africa must collaborate in the fight against maternal morbidity and mortality. When there is collaboration between the media and health entities, interventions in maternal and child health would be effective. Reporting on maternal and child health issues through the media reduces the risk associated with maternal morbidity and mortality.

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