In a world where there are many charities I chose who I support carefully and one of the charities I am supporting this year is Health Poverty Action. Health Poverty Action works to strengthen poor and marginalised people in their struggle for health. They prioritise those missed out by almost everyone else. Health Poverty Action recognises health as a fundamental human right, not simply a medical challenge.
Their Mothers on the Margins campaign is particularly poignant and something I sincerely hope changes for the better. Every year between 230,000 and 398,000 women die before, during or just after childbirth. 99% of these women are in developing countries. These figures are unacceptable in themselves, but some women are more at risk that others. Indigenous women, or those from other cultural minorities, are more likely to die or face complications related to pregnancy
This Sunday 5th August 2012 Health Poverty Action will join forces with one of Britain’s iconic actors and voices of radio, Felicity Finch in a special appeal. The actor who plays a breast cancer survivor in the world’s longest-running radio soap is to urge Britons to support a charity which has used another radio soap to save the lives of people in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Felicity Finch – best known as Ruth Archer to the five million people who listen to the 62-year-old serial The Archers, set in the fictional countryside of Ambridge – will present the Health Poverty Action BBC Radio 4 Appeal on Sunday, 5 August.
In the central African country of Rwanda, from busy urban streets to its rural villages, 10 million listeners each week tune in to hear their own version of The Archers, the drama serial Urunana, which means “Hand in Hand” in the Kinyarwandan dialect. The drama, supported by Health Poverty Action, has proved a lifeline by featuring engaging stories to tackle vital issues such as child health and AIDS, and played a key part in Rwanda slashing its HIV infection rate by a staggering 73 per cent. In one storyline a girl, Mugeni, is infected with HIV and becomes pregnant.
One listener, Maria, also HIV positive and expecting a baby, wrote a moving letter to the show: “Before, people thought an HIV positive woman couldn’t give birth to a healthy child. But I heard on the radio that it was possible. I realised that I was like Mugeni and that I must go to seek treatment. Now I have a healthy baby girl, after two HIV positive children! I have named her Mugeni….”
Felicity, who attended Urunana’s launch over a decade ago, will tell the Radio 4 audience:“None of this would have been possible without Health Poverty Action. It does whatever it takes to bring care and health education to people like Maria – whether through radio shows, training midwives or building health centres. But it can’t do this without the help of people like you.”
Last year in Rwanda, and in other African countries, as well as in Asia and Latin America, the charity saved many lives by training hundreds of thousands of health workers, helping to provide key services, and backing civil society organisations.
Felicity will urge listeners to make a donation, either online via the Radio 4 website, by calling 0800 404 8144, or sending a cheque made out to Health Poverty Action to Freepost Radio 4 Appeal.
People can hear the appeal at 7.55 am on 5 August, repeated the same day at 9.26 pm, and again at 3.27 pm on Thursday, 9 August. You can also read more about the appeal and watch some fantastically emotional and moving videos on the Health Poverty Action website.