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20/20's Diane Sawyer brings the story from Afghanistan
"The question is — are we willing to make those lives a priority?"

1,000 women and girls die every day - Photo Source:  ABC.go.com "Mariam's Story.”

In a first for American primetime television, Diane Sawyer has created an ABC 20/20 segment to share the most-often-forgotten, yet continually-tragic plight of 358,000 women and girls who die giving birth each year — 1,000 every day.

With characteristic concern — creating connectedness between two mothers and their infants — Ms. Sawyer gives us a keen sense of what so many people still suffer, across our world.

We see an American woman who gives birth to her baby daughter at a modern hospital in Brooklyn. We see an Afghan girl who worries she will die attempting to give birth to her baby son.

pregnant in afghanistan
Pregnant in Afghanistan
Photo Source:  ABC.go.com "Mariam's Story.”

We see the conditions and culture this Afghan girl endures, in sharp contrast to the comforts of typical childbirth in North America.

Featured is the story of Jhpiego — an international non-profit organization that works in developing countries to prevent needless deaths of women and their families. Here, Jhpiego assembles "an army of young women, giving them basic training as midwives... taught how to deal with hemorrhaging, the 'number one cause of maternal mortality.' In their faces you can see how much they want to know, how much they want to help.”

As well, we benefit from the in-depth reflections of Pulitzer Prize winner, Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, who has championed this concern with insightful articles, blogs and books, like ”Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”

He says, "The toll of deaths from violence and terrorism in Afghanistan is huge, but four more Afghans die from childbirth than from one Taliban bomb."

jpheigo trainees
Jhpiego's midwifery trainees in Afghanistan
Photo Source:  ABC.go.com "Mariam's Story.”

For the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health, this story could not be more timely, as we launch, in 2012, an online maternal health awareness campaign to tell global stories that are most-often forgotten — and to 'connect the dots' between marginalized access to care and marginalized health workers.

Like Mr. Kristof, we ask, "The question is — are we willing to make those lives a priority?"

See "Pregnant Child in Afghanistan: Miriam's Story" television segment at ABC online >>

Read the related ABC story from Muriel Pearson & Donna Hunter here >>


Visitors at the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. This was the site to launch Dr. Jean Watson's Million Nurse Project—during the 2010 International Year of the Nurse—to radiate heart-centered Love, Caring and Compassion through individual and collective global meditations. Photo Courtesy of the Mary Baker Eddy Library.