Describe the main features of the measure/initiative:
Visual Arts Association of Malawi (VAAM) is an umbrella body for all visual artists in Malawi. In 2017 the association, in partnership with a leading paint manufacturing company – Rainbow Paints Limited, carried out a project on Uchembere Wabwino (Safe Motherhood) at the antenatal ward of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. The project was mainly about 20 professional artists coming together to paint illustrations on the walls of the ante-natal ward with the theme of Safe Motherhood. The illustrations that came out conveyed varied messages including that: a woman is not supposed to engage in heavy physical work during advanced stages of pregnancy; a pregnant woman must have a well balanced diet for her to give birth to a healthy baby. There were also messages on child spacing vis-à-vis birth control with the aim of curbing over-population in Malawi. In order to come up with accurate information the project involved collaboration among artists, nurses and doctors in message development. The artists’ expressions on the hospital walls were inspiring and they were not only visible to those coming for ante-natal services but all patients and guardians alike. The nurses and doctors were also able to use the same images as visual aides when giving health talks to mothers at the antenatal department. The project was also part of the artists’ corporate social responsibility. The artists were able to give back to the community through their works and in the process save lives. The project was supposed to be taken to Health Centres in all the district in Malawi, to save lives of pregnant women in the remote rural areas. Artists around the Health Centres were supposed to take part in the project but due to financial challenges this phase did not materialize.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the measure/initiative?:
The Safe Mother-hood Project made significant contribution and impact as follows; i.Easy access of communication materials on Safe Motherhood by health personnel The project developed communication materials on safe mother-hood practices. These communication materials are now being used to create awareness on the issue in the antenatal ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. The communication materials include; twenty (20) artistic mural paintings that can also be accessed on facebook https://web.facebook.com/gilbertmpakule and Twitter @gilbertmpakule. These materials will continue to be used by the health sector in a number of years to come. ii.Mass awareness Through the project, messages on Safe Motherhood have reached to the masses in Malawi. Different media channels including television, radio, newspapers, art exhibitions, brochures and the internet have time and again carried messages developed by the project.