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Radio - a partner in maternal health survival

There is no doubt that radio plays a very important role in educating and informing its listeners on what is happening around them. Here in Malawi, radio is the most affordable and easiest means of communication as you find people glued to their radios to catch the latest news and listen to their favourite radio programs.

Many people in this country own a radio. Whether it uses batteries, powered by electricity or solar, everyone understands that radio is the greatest and most reliable source of information, and it is an asset.

I have worked in the radio industry for many years and I have come to appreciate the role radio plays in impacting the lives of its listeners. I have come to appreciate how radio can influence change positively if the message is right and relevant to its listeners. As a broadcaster, I have found satisfaction in my work when I see people’s lives change and able to take action on some of the issues affecting their daily lives.

In its work to improve service delivery on maternal and newborn health (MNH), MamaYe Malawi has trained and engaged journalists from different media houses to amplify its work. This has been through news stories, features, TV documentaries, and special radio programs. It is in this line that people have been able to get the appropriate information they need on how to access quality health care in maternal and newborn health.

MamaYe Malawi has been featured in a number of radio programs advocating for safe and quality health care towards pregnant mothers. One of the radio stations to have featured MamaYe and its work is Maziko Radio Station, a developmental radio station.

Venitta Mkaka, a producer of a radio program called Mbeleko, a program that promotes safe motherhood, says she has had positive feedback from listeners appreciating the information given by MamaYe.

I’ve seen many mothers going to deliver to a nearest health facility after listening to the program and the information which was provided by MamaYe Malawi,” explains Venitta.

Venitta Mkaka, Maziko radio producer

Venitta further says that the pubic have been made aware of the critical situations in hospitals which are putting mothers at risk of maternal and neonatal deaths.

“Through the radio, we have been able to advocate for people to be donating blood to hospitals as there have been many cases of mothers dying due to shortage of blood,” says Venitta.

But to the pregnant mother who is also a listener, how has she benefitted from the radio? Has radio played any important part in her making the right decisions over her pregnancy?  Thoko Mbeya, a mother of three children, shares her story of how she benefitted from listening to the radio.

“I learned of identifying danger signs on the radio. Many times, pregnant mothers delay to go to the clinic when there are problems with us. We delay in going for medical help thinking that the problem will go away. But after listening to the radio on the advantages of seeking help at a health centre, I was able to give birth to three healthy babies,” said Thoko.

Thoko Mbeya

Thoko also explains that the radio also played a role in giving her information on why it was critical for her to be attending antenatal clinics.

Attending antenatal clinics helped in making sure that the babies were fine. Otherwise with the work that I do at home, it could have caused some complications. But I heeded the messages I heard on the radio and made sure that I made regular visits to the clinics for check-ups,” says Thoko a proud mother of two boys and one girl.

To most people radio is just for entertainment, but to others it is more than listening to music and news. It is a source of information of living a healthy and happier life. Radio is a very valuable asset if it is used properly. It is very important that every radio program producer or presenter delivers the right information for its listeners. Information which is accurate, factual and beneficial. As for the listener, it is important that they act on those pieces of information they have heard on radio.

MamaYe Malawi believes in the power of radio by ensuring that the journalists are provided with the right evidence which has been generated from various sources. It is believed that with this right information the radio would be able to use to make a difference in the lives of pregnant mothers. World Radio Day should be celebrated by appreciating the role radio plays in saving our pregnant mothers through its news broadcasts and it various programs. 

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