The second part of my India trip was photographing maternal health.
I was photographing maternal health for Immpact, a global research initiative for the evaluation of maternal and newborn health intervention strategies in developing countries. Immpact’s mission is to conduct excellent and innovative research to inform and influence policy, governance and practice, improve quality of care and strengthen capacity for maternal and child health in low and middle income countries. I have also photographed maternal health in Malawi for Immpact, who are based at Aberdeen University. The Malawi images can be found here: http://donnamurrayphotography.com/khuwi-maternity-clinic-malawi/ & http://donnamurrayphotography.com/bwaila-maternity-unit-malawi/
In total i visited six maternity clinics within a mix of private and government run hospitals organised by my contact. My aim was to photograph the clinic conditions, transport, equipment, staff and mothers & babies for Immpact to use in reports, lectures and teaching. Every clinic was wary of my visit, i completely understood. The reason behind my visit was not to photograph poverty which one doctor suggested. My contact mentioned their had been a documentary recently in India that caused uproar as it painted India in such bad light. I made sure to show each image i took to the person in charge, very few images were deleted.
Within 10 minutes of my first visit i was told their was a woman giving birth and i was allowed in to the room, it all happened so quickly i didn’t even have time to think about how i was going to photograph the birth, i just knew that i had to give the woman respect and not get too close. The baby arrived within minutes and i was left amazed by the woman who did not make one sound during the birth of her son.
I couldn’t help but compare clinics in India to clinics i had visited a year before in Malawi. I was impressed that the rural hospitals i visited had running water and electricity. My contact said this would not have been the case if i had visited 10 years ago. I was also really impressed there was a free pick up and drop off delivery for women, no matter where they lived. In tribal areas there is one dedicated person who is given a mobile phone and can arrange a pick up for a woman any time from the third trimester on wards, they are also dropped off after 48 hours if the labour was without complication. In Malawi women walked for days to get to their nearest clinic at around eight months pregnant, push bike ambulances were also introduced as petrol is too costly.
At the end of my trip i felt extremely grateful to my contacts for organising each visit and to the six clinics for letting me take photographs. I was aware that i was a complete stranger asking to photograph some really private moments in people’s lives.