Earlier this month, Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, wrote an article on Huffington Post titled, "It's Time to Make Mothers a Priority." In this piece, Sia Nyama Koroma writes: "We say goodbye to our mothers and sisters as they go into labor, and we know too well that a pregnant woman in Kigali or Freetown has one foot in the grave." She continues:
Alongside efforts to strengthen our health systems I have launched a campaign in my country to tackle the non-medical causes and contributory factors which so influence maternal health. We need to change attitudes and behavior, and engage with traditional and religious leaders to effect change at local level where decisions to seek medical care are taken. We also need to make health care affordable and accessible for all pregnant women and children.
First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma attended the Leadership for Health summit, and even spoke on a panel with our own President, Jill Sheffield. This op-ed is a good example of the power of First Ladies -- they have the ability to speak out on maternal health and seek change within their own countries. We hope that First Ladies, like Sia Nyama Koroma, will offer their insights and suggestions on how to make real progress at a First Ladies' Roundtable at the Women Deliver 2010 conference.