The Aminata Maternal Foundation (AMF)
The case study focuses on the activities of a Non-Governmental Organization known as the Aminata Maternal Foundation (AMF). The discussion revolves around the purpose of the group and its mission to enhance the health status of communities in West Africa, especially in Sierra Leone. AMF, whose headquarters are based in Australia, plays a significant part in funding various programs. Founded by Aminata Conteh-Biger, the movement strives to improve the wellbeing of women and children and increase the allocation of medical resources (“The Aminata Maternal Foundation, “n.d.). As a survivor of the Sierra Leone civil war, she understands the struggles that the female population faces due to lack of access to quality and affordable medical care. Thus, through the movement, she can impact health outcomes of underprivileged communities in low- and middle-income countries.
Capacity to Utilize Health Resources
The case captures a significant element that determines a population’s perception and utilization of available health care resources and facilities. Health literacy is a factor that examines people’s willingness and capacity to access or seek professional help. The ability of a particular community to acquire and internalize diverse categories of information about health issues and existing services varies widely. Health literacy is a critical marker of individuals’ capacity to use means at their disposal to improve medical outcomes. However, some factors such as lack of extensive knowledge about health issues impede efforts to increase health literacy in low-and-middle-income countries. Hence, there is a need to explore unique strategies that can enhance health awareness in West Africa.
The Role of Media
The study examines the impact of mass media on AMF’s agenda. The organization intends to increase health literacy levels across Sierra Leone with particular emphasis in the rural areas. Communities that reside in remote regions lack knowledge about professional services offered at various facilities despite access to mass media such as radios. Issues such as the low levels of income in Sierra Leone contributed to the lack of public awareness about health concerns and difficulties in communicating with professionals in the sector. Given the AMF’s mission, the paper examines the possibility of using mass media as a communication tool that can facilitate efforts to educate communities. Thus, it considers the use of radio as a viable platform for reaching many people and teaching them about health.
The Impacts of Radio on Health
Before settling on radios as the most appropriate communication devices that can improve health literacy, the research investigates the device’s effectiveness in curbing other diseases. It begins by reviewing Sierra Leone’s HIV/AIDS statistics and the role the radio has played in enlightening the public about the illness. Literature indicates that the disease has become a significant concern due to the shocking figures of new infections and deaths related to it. For example, in 2016, the country lost 2,800 people to the disease while 5,300 were infected (UNAIDS, n.d.). Given the data, it is clear that the overall use of radio has not been effective in educating the public about the dangers, spread, and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Therefore, while radio use is rampant across the African continent, it has not prevented the spread of the disease.
Maternal Health Issues
The study evaluates the use of radio in addressing other health concerns. Problems such as high maternal mortality and morbidity arise during child delivery. Conteh-Biger is concerned about the welfare of girls and mothers since she had experienced the risks that the female population endures while giving birth. Thus, AMF focuses on helping mothers in Sierra Leone’s remote areas to deliver their babies safely (Macdonald & Kanowski, 2018). Her experience is evidence that women who lack similar privileges due to defunct health systems face worse conditions and higher risks. Raising awareness about the difficulties that the group endures through prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum stages can reduce the high maternal deaths in the country. Through radio sessions that provide forums for engaging with leaders on maternal health issues, the press can challenge the current regime to take action. Hence, the radio can influence service delivery.
The case study examines the effectiveness of radio as a platform for educating populations about other diseases that affect societies. Given that radio is one of the most accessible and common mass media platforms, it is essential to assess its effectiveness in addressing critical illness like cancer. As one of the diseases that continue to plague low-and-middle-income countries, it is vital to embrace its usage in order to reach a large audience. Combating it requires individuals to understand the disease and the value of seeking treatment promptly. Some of the methods that radio can use to impart knowledge about cancer include call-in as well as the question and answer programs. Therefore, it is an appropriate platform for enhancing literacy levels.
Appropriate Approaches for Increasing Health Literacy
The case study concludes by examining approaches that AMF can incorporate in its strategy to enhance health literacy in Sierra Leone. Improving people’s awareness about health issues and services can impact overall medical outcomes. There are various challenges such as lack of stable power sources that hinder access to crucial information, especially in the rural areas low-and-middle-income countries. The solution entails empowering local communities through the provision of hand-cranked portable AM/FM radios that will enable the underdeveloped regions to obtain information with minimal interruptions. Besides, it can engage health workers and activists to push for improvement of service delivery. Thus, AMF should establish viable approaches that will increase access to the target group.
Macdonald, H., & Kanowski, S. (2018, Jul. 16). Surviving kidnap in Sierra Leone. ABC Podcast. Podcast retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-aminata-conteh-biger/9960922
The Aminata Maternal Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aminatamaternalfoundation.org/about/
UNAIDS. (n.d.). Sierra Leone. Retrieved from http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/sierraleone