Giving Midwives a Voice in Ghana

Global Health Corporate Champions Support the Ghana Registered Midwives Association

Melissa Mattoon is in Ghana, reporting on the second team of Global Health Corporate Champions—a multi-company cohort of 13 professionals from across multiple industries providing pro bono consulting services in Accra. Drawing from their collective expertise in management, communications, product sustainability, operations, and finance, the team is spending a month embedded in four powerful, social sector health organizations focused on projects designed to increase access to quality healthcare for communities throughout the region.

 The Global Health Corporate Champions is an activity of the USAID Global Health Fellows Program II, which is implemented by the Public Health Institute and supported by PYXERA Global. The program supports the Agency’s thought leadership in building a technically excellent, culturally competent, and highly diverse group of current and next generation global health leaders.

Formed in 1935, the Ghana Registered Midwives Association (GRMA) aims to promote and protect the interest and welfare of midwives across the country. Midwives play an integral role in improving access to healthcare in Ghana where they provide more than 60 percent of all maternal and child healthcare services and deliver more than half of all babies.

“Midwives are often the first point of contact for pregnant women in Ghana, especially in rural and deprived communities,” said Fredrica Hanson, Senior Program Manager, GRMA. “Midwives can be found at almost every level of  the healthcare system.”

GRMA provides integrated services for ensuring accessibility of reproductive healthcare and child survival services through community mobilization and collaboration with health delivery system partners throughout Ghana. GRMA currently supports midwives in all 10 regions of Ghana.

Despite being in existence for over 80 years, many of GRMA’s stakeholders do not fully understand the organization’s mission and value. GRMA has struggled to establish consistent channels to send relevant information to members, regulatory organizations, and potential donors in real time.

Midwives play a vital role in Ghana’s healthcare system, where they make up less than 15 percent of the healthcare workforce but provide 60-70 percent of maternal, reproductive, and child healthcare services in the country.  

A team of Global Health Corporate Champions (GHCC) from the Dow Chemical Company and WE Communications arrived three weeks ago to work with GRMA to find their voice. This group of four pro bono consultants consists of a media relations director, a health communications specialist, a medical doctor, and a supply chain innovator. With such diverse backgrounds, it’s an unexpected group to be tasked with such a monumental challenge. But each member brings a unique skillset to the table, enabling the team to accelerate their work and deliverables in such a short period of time.

Over the past nine years, global pro bono programs have become an effective way for companies to build global leaders while also working to address pressing problems faced by communities around the world. Lessons learned on the ground help leaders develop the ability to manage challenges in highly complex, rapidly changing, resource-constrained environments. Typically, companies send teams of 8 to 12 high-performing employees to partner with local organizations on assignments that aim to enhance local capacity in emerging and frontier markets.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II and PYXERA Global pioneered a variation on the traditional global pro bono model through the GHCC, a multi-company cohort of business professionals working on the ground in Accra, Ghana.

“Integrating skills and talent is one of the key facets of transformation. The solution is unlikely to be a communications-only challenge, and integration of ideas will most definitely be needed to ensure success,” said Hugh Adams, Account Manager for Health at WE Communications. “We will need to collect the respect and insight of a variety of different stakeholders to craft an impactful set of recommendations.”

Integrating skills and talent is one of the key facets of transformation.

The primary objective of this GHCC team is to develop a plan that enables GRMA to intensify its visibility among midwives and other key stakeholders, as well as to improve administrative procedures for better organizational functioning and future partnership opportunities.

The team hit the ground running by completing a comprehensive competitive analysis, conducting regional site visits, setting baseline metrics, and interviewing key stakeholders. The team even had an opportunity to visit with the First Lady of Ghana to discuss the country’s maternal health priorities.

Jeff Tazelaar (Dow), Hugh Adams (WE Communications), Paulina Siaw-Akoto Debrah (GRMA), Chrissy Vaughn (WE Communications), and Mark Boquet (Dow)

“I have been inspired by the passion these women have for the woman and children throughout Ghana,” said Jeff Tazelaar, of the Dow Chemical Company. “This shines through when they speak about their profession and the challenges and opportunities they have for improving the quality of care and driving value for their members.”

I have been inspired by the passion these women have for the woman and children throughout Ghana

Superintendent Marufatu Essie Braimah was one of the first stakeholders the GHCC team met during their initial round of meetings two weeks ago. Essie is a nurse-midwife, police officer, head of nursing and midwifery at the local Police Hospital, and Chairperson for the Greater Accra chapter of GRMA. Referencing GRMA’s need to better market itself, Essie called on the GHCC team to help the organization tell its story. “If the soup is sweet, they will pull their chairs up to the table,” she said.

With the stakeholder input in hand, the team is now hard at work developing their final recommendations. The proposed package of project deliverables includes a new organizational value proposition, a complete administrative strategy, a communications plan and messaging strategy, and a baseline of monitoring and evaluation indicators. Additionally, the team intends to lead a media and communications training for key leaders to ensure external messaging remains clear and consistent.

Chrissy Vaughn of WE Communications presents a draft of the team’s communications plan for GRMA.

“Essie’s analogy of sweetening the soup really resonated with us on the very first day,” said Chrissy Vaughn, Account Director from WE Communications. “And after diving into our project, our research validated the hypothesis that GRMA’s core problem is that its stakeholders don’t understand the organization’s value proposition. Essie hit the nail on the head. So, the recommendations we are now sharing with GRMA all center around a “recipe” of communications and operations strategies focused on how to get people—their current members, prospective members, government agencies, and funding NGOs—to ‘pull their chairs to the table.’”

Stay tuned for more updates from the Global Health Corporate Champions by following along on Twitter and Facebook using #GHCCGhana

 To learn more about the Global Health Corporate Champions, visit:

The author’s views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.

Feature photo courtesy of Hugh Adams

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