Last week Flight For Every Mother’s Dr Sophia Webster landed in Cape Town, South Africa, after a successful journey, from the UK via 24 African countries, to promote safer pregnancy for women and highlight maternal mortality in the continent.
Sophia, who was sponsored by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with the support of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), managed to effectively pilot a 4-seat Cessna 182 aeroplane making frequent stops throughout her 16-week venture.
Tanzania, Kenya, Chad, Nigeria and Sierra Leone were a few of the stops where Sophia was able to visit local medical and midwifery facilities to experience first-hand the services available to women in sun-Saharan Africa.
She was able to gain an understanding of the challenges maternity practitioners in under-resourced areas face day-to-day and offer some essential healthcare equipment while facilitating discussion and teaching sessions on how to manage the major factors contributing to preventable deaths among pregnant women.
Looking back on her trip, Sophia said:
“I am very pleased that this project has come to a successful end. There has been so much hard work put into every stage and it has certainly given me a new perspective on how lucky women are in this country, to have easy and immediate access to quality maternity care.
“There are still too many women dying or becoming seriously ill while pregnant and during childbirth, with many of the countries I visited accounting for over half of all maternal deaths worldwide.
“All women should have the opportunity to have a child in a safe environment, and hopefully this journey was able to highlight the reasons why this is so difficult for so many.
“I am very thankful for all the support I have received from my sponsors and the healthcare professionals who met me at each stage of my journey, they gave me a glimpse into their lives of combating maternal morbidity and mortality on a daily basis.”
Dr Paul Fogarty, RCOG Senior Vice President (Global Health), added:
“We congratulate Sophia on this huge achievement and thank her for doing her part to raise awareness and promote safer childbirth for women in countries with the highest rates of maternal mortality.
“While maternal mortality rates have declined over the past decade, more needs to be done for this trend to continue and increasing awareness of problems at a local level, including the number of skilled health workers and emergency obstetric care centres available to women, is certainly the way forward to achieving this.
“The RCOG is a proud sponsor of Sophia’s work and are hopeful that she has inspired other healthcare professionals in her bid to bring these problems to the attention of the outside world. We all need to work harder to continue to improve maternal health worldwide.”