Ashoka grooms the youth to address maternal health issues in the world
News Date: 5th May 2011
Ashoka, a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, is targeting young people as agents of change to address maternal health problems and save women from dying through childbirth.
Dubbed: “Young Champions of Maternal Health Programme”, Ashoka has created the programme to provide a space for the next generation of maternal health change makers to exchange insights, inspirations and ideas for the future with some of the leading thinkers and social entrepreneurs in the maternal health field.
Professor Fred T. Sai, Family Health Physician and a Former Presidential Advisor on Population and HIV and AIDS issues, addressed participants at the end of a three-day Young Champions Future Forum in Accra on Wednesday.
He said women and adolescent girls needed access to high reductive health services including family planning in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies, adding, “Access to reproductive health would enable women to better plan the number and spacing of their children”.
Prof. Sai noted that women were dying unnecessarily through pregnancy related causes that could have been prevented adding, ”The signs are now known, cost involved are not beyond government and I think it is time for us to value the health of women”.
The forum organised by Ashoka in collaboration with Maternal Health Taskforce of the Engender Health, a non-governmental organisation on women health, is mentoring 15 young men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems.
The selected 15 young entrepreneurs were taken through nine months training, and have been partnered with other Ashoka fellows in ensuring that they translated their ideas on maternal health into reality.
Prof. Sai expressed the worry that maternal health issues had been battled with since time in memorial and yet, “the problems persist”.
He asked young people to brighten the corner where they were and never allow themselves to be discouraged or distracted by people around them.
“You must remain focused in your dreams and in whatever you do, perform to improve the health of women as well in the battle of maternal health and with you the young ones looking so energetic and full of life, we will some day make a change,” he Prof. Sai.
Dr Ann K. Blanc, Director of Maternal Health Taskforce, expressed satisfaction about the ideas of young people in addressing maternal health,
She said: “We need to nurture the young ones since they will be the future generation to handle events of the world hence, this forum.”
She said the competition was so keen that it would be difficult to even select five to take part in the upcoming meeting of maternal health think tank to be held in New York next October.
“The young ones are just terrific and that gives us hope that we have the right people to handle events when we are gone,” Mr Tim Thomas, Senior Advisor of Maternal Health Taskforce said.