As published in the Globe and Mail, May 29, 2014.
Having recently returned from Togo, Africa, may I suggest that the next summit on maternal, newborn and child health take place in a small rural village like Ledikope, Agrippa, Goudeve or Agoekondji in the areas northwest of Lome, Togo – not in a posh Toronto hotel.
Delegates could sit on a dirt floor in a hut with temperatures hovering around 38 C and have limited access to clean drinking water – but they could actually listen to the mothers, teachers and principals who know what they need for the survival and good health of children in the villages.
They would get a first-hand view of the daily struggles for women as they rise at dawn to get water, find food and take their children to school. The women know what they need, but in the West we still like to tell them what we will do to solve these issues.
Our arrogance astounds me. The Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health says, “We also engage stakeholders – charities, universities, businesses and governments.”
What about the women and children? Aren’t they the stakeholders who must be consulted first?
M.L. (Peggy) Morrison, Oakville, Ont.