Written by Nosa Orobaton, Chief of Party, Nigeria Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP)
It’s the end of the second day of the Global Maternal Health Conference now, and my thoughts have crystallized further on the theme of, “How do we produce more in the results space? How do we make real and significant progress?”
Maternal health – safe childbirth – as was repeatedly and rightly stressed, is not a disease, which means the approach is not straightforward. One doesn’t treat it like treating malaria, for example, although preventing malaria in pregnancy is an important means of promoting maternal health. There are cultural elements, gender issues, equity considerations, community viewpoints to consider, all of which need to be appropriately addressed.
The way I see it, there are three key elements, or senses, to improving maternal health care, and they must work together. We need, first of all, the evidence sense. We rely on researchers to generate it. And then we need what I will call ‘street sense’. Street sense encompasses the views of the community and activists. Street sense purveyors understand what the community wants and needs. The third element is the common sense, which is derived from the policy makers and political leaders. Politicians can and do make things happen, and they understand how to do it.
All of these senses need to come together to repeatedly produce the results and outcome we seek, especially at scale. The researchers and community activists are here, seeking collaboration and sharing ideas. However, the common sense people are not well-represented at the conference. In order to make progress in maternal health, for the evidence-based interventions that women want and need, will require the political dimension. We know this. We don’t always embrace it. Nor have we always persisted in our pursuit for political support. We will need alliances throughout the community for those interventions to take and to maintain progress over time. Three senses; evidence, street and common senses. All are needed in concert for lasting results and progress in maternal health.
Other posts written by Nosa Orobaton from the 2013 Global Maternal Health Conference: