Medical Aid Films is a UK-based charity that uses film as an innovative, sustainable and highly scalable way to support health training and education for the developing world. Our mission is to use film to support grass-roots efforts to reduce unnecessary maternal and child deaths, in line with Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
In 2006, midwife Fiona Laird was working in a refugee camp in Darfur with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She saw mothers and babies dying everyday, often for reasons that were preventable even in the under-resourced camp. Fiona decided to organise a training session, covering the basics of safe-delivery, hygiene and newborn care. With over 1,000 people turning up, it was clear that demand was huge, but with few resources and barriers of language and literacy, it proved to be unsustainable.
On her return to the UK, Fiona spoke with two colleagues, Professor Eric Jauniaux and Dr Natalie Greenwold, both experts in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology. They believed that film could provide the answer to the problem Fiona faced. In 2007, Medical Aid Films (MAF) was born. Since then, the organization has produced 34 life-saving films that are being used by over 1,200 partners in 80 countries around the world.
Film allows us to present complex information in a clear, engaging way, and helps the audience to remember what they’ve learned. In settings where literacy rates are low, film makes learning accessible to all. It is also highly cost-effective, and therefore scalable and sustainable; our films are free, can be watched again and again, and shared an unlimited number of times.
What we do
We produce and distribute best practice, medically accurate and resource appropriate health education through films to skilled health workers, community health workers and communities.
We work with health organisations and community projects, building capacity and strengthening health systems from within. Working in this way, we avoid wasting resources or replicating the work of others; we try to ensure our work complements and facilitates the work of others, ultimately providing a better, more wide-spread service.
We produce films aimed at all skill levels, because improving knowledge and understanding among ordinary people is just as important as providing quality training for health workers. Through gathering feedback from our partners on the ground, we can be sure that we’re providing films that respond directly to the needs of our audiences.
We aim to make our films accessible in terms of language as well as content. We’ve already produced films in six languages, and we’re working towards translating our suite for different audiences across the developing world.
The topics we cover are often requested by our partners, so we know that every film we make is of vital importance. Some of the most popular among our partners are:
- Newborn care: the first hours after delivery – showing warning signs in newborns
- Neonatal resuscitation
- Manual removal of the placenta
- How to use a partograph
- Focused Antenatal Care
- 10 steps to a clean delivery
These films, along with the rest of our suite, cover care of the newborn and care of the mother, because one cannot be separated from the other. Of all child deaths worldwide, 44% occur in the first month of life; and 75% of these in the first week. Poor maternal health or lack of care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period lead to the majority of infant deaths.
We know our films change lives, but there is so much more to do. Over the next three years, we aim to:
- Develop our film library – Next topics in production include Sexual and Reproductive Health, Women’s Rights in Healthcare and continuing to build out obstetric and safe delivery films
- Culturally adapt and translate our films – Currently, we are adapting a sample of our films for South East Asia due in July 2014
- Harness the power of e-learning and mobile technology – Film lends itself perfectly in support of these ventures
- Collaborate and partner – Improving our reach as well as our product is paramount to achieving our goals
We hope to continue to complement the work of others across the globe working to improve maternal and child health. This can only be done together, so for more information on our work and how we can work together, please email firstname.lastname@example.org