Global maternal health projects start to take shape

babyGreat progress this week with the international partnership to develop the Family Inclusion Toolkit and dad information services: Trinidad, Nigeria and Jordan.

In Trinidad & Tobago, the lead partner is Debrah Lewis, head of the Mamatoto maternity service. Deborah is a former Vice-President of the International College of Midwives and a great advocate of engaging with fathers in maternal health – here is Debrah’s TedX talk on this subject.

In Nigeria, the lead partner is Yashua Alkali. Yashua was Head of Paediatrics in the country’s busiest hospital, the Murtala Muhammed, and is a prominent leader in maternal and child health in Nigeria.

Also from Nigeria is Judith Yargawa. Judith is actually currently based in London doing a PhD. For her dissertation she studied the impact of involving fathers on healthcare. I reported on this work right at the start of Family Included. Judith has supported Family Included from the outset, and introduced us to Yashua.

In Jordan, the lead is Dr Hala Bawadi. Hala recently published a first report on engaging with Arabic fathers, which I reported on Family Included. Hala is pioneer of engaging with families and fathers in the Arabic world.

In Australia is Professor Mary Steen at the University of South Australia. Mary has published research on family inclusion and she wrote the guidelines on involving fathers for the Royal College of Midwives in UK. Mary is a practicing midwife, a teacher of midwives, a researcher and an entrepreneur.

In UK there are three people, myself and:

– Adrienne Burgess, CEO of the Fatherhood Institute. The Institute has a long track record of working with family services to help them be family and father inclusive.

– Martin Desborough manages the Dad.Info website, and will coordinate the work on developing websites for parents, all linked together in a global exchange of content.

The project

The project aims to promote family inclusive maternal healthcare, on the grounds that it works better than engaging only with the woman and also on the grounds that respecting a woman’s family is a mark of respect to her.

  1. Develop the Family Inclusion Toolkit, incorporating learning from throughout the world. The output will be a tool for each country and something that can be adapted in any country in future.
  1. Develop on-line support for all those using the toolkit – a peer community within each country and linked into a global exchange.
  1. Develop training in family inclusive care and training of trainers in each country.
  1. Conferences and workshops in each country to promote family inclusive care.
  1. Develop “Dad bank” – content on fatherhood and on families that every service can plug into, so they have good content immediately. There will be national versions of this, all linked together in a global exchange.
  1. Test the use of all the above in other services and evaluate the difference they make.

This project is a dream come true for me. I gave up international work to be close to our children and started work on maternity and children’s services in UK. Now that our children are older I can return to the international work with this experience behind me. There is another very personal joy for me in this project: my mother had a baby in both Nigeria and in Jordan, two of the countries covered in this project – an entire coincidence! I was the baby born in Jordan and I have not been back since I was one month old.