This post was authored by Pete Chatmon, a Producer of Kadi: Saving Mothers and Babies, One Voucher at a Time. Kadi is a thirty-minute documentary spotlighting the reproductive health voucher program in Kenya, a Government of Kenya Vision 2030 flagship program. The film was produced in 2011-2012 by the Gobee Group and was made possible through a grant to the Population Council from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to the documentary, the project produced a series of five webisodes exploring specific topics with the Kenya and Uganda voucher programs.
I have an interesting relationship with KADI. Although I am a producer, I was not able to join the team on location in East Africa so my introduction to the content only happened once everyone had returned to New York City.
The filmmakers (Benjamin Ahr Harrison, Idil Ibrahim, and Anna Fahr) spent two weeks with their boots on the ground in Kenya and Uganda, capturing everything they could about the reproductive health voucher programs. I was able to stay updated via twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, but it was the HD video footage I saw upon their return that would have the ultimate impact.
My hope is that you have the same experience as you view the videos, and share them with your respective communities.
For many Americans, giving birth is viewed as risky as a trip to the dentist. I’m being facetious, yes, but overwhelmingly expectant mothers and their families prepare for a few hours of labor, an overnight stay, and a trip home shortly thereafter with their bundle of joy.
What we often fail to recognize, however, is that this sequence of events is far from the norm around much of the world. Across the globe, every hour 40 women die in childbirth (35 of which could have been prevented with access to proper healthcare). In Kenya, 488 mothers die per 100,000 deliveries. I think we’d all agree that these statistics are unacceptable. 80% of maternal deaths could be prevented with a set of proven interventions delivered by a skilled attendant; 2/3 of neonatal deaths could be avoided with access to proper medical intervention in the first week of life. The voucher program we documented is a definitive step toward bringing services to the previously unserved.
It takes a complex network of caring people to administer a program of this nature. We interviewed all of the various stakeholders to not only show what they do and how, but also communicate the passion with which they approach this important work. Whether it’s a mother recounting how her baby’s life was saved, an expert sharing her opinion, a distributor walking us through important data capture on mobile devices, or a health provider illustrating how entire communities have been changed, these intimate portraits elicit a more nuanced understanding of how everything works.
It’s a beautiful matrix of symbiosis. Pregnant women receive professional healthcare to assist with the safe delivery of their babies and clinics receive resources to improve their ability to serve an expanding patient base. Plus the funds to support the initiative can be directly tracked, allowing the program’s success to be accurately measured.
Our two weeks of filming resulted in a short documentary, 5 webisodes, 16 stories from the field, an animation explaining how vouchers work, and a behind-the-scenes featurette. All of this content provides a guide to the principles and practices that will allow this program to successfully expand, but underneath it all is a beautiful story of how people can affect change when they commit their best efforts toward a common goal.
I hope that you can join us in this effort by spreading the word and following our social media platforms for future updates.
-Pete Chatmon, June 2012
(Photo credit: Anna Fahr)