Sophia, sponsored by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with the support of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), will pilot a 4-seat Cessna 182 aeroplane between the UK and South Africa via 25 African countries.
The journey should take 15 weeks with regular stops in countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Chad, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Morocco. These stops will enable Sophia to visit local medical and midwifery facilities where she will be able to offer some essential medical equipment and facilitate discussion and teaching sessions on how to manage the major factors contributing to preventable deaths among pregnant women.
The project will also highlight Millennium Development Goal 5, to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015, as well as raise money for a number of charities working in maternal health, including the RCOG Smile Appeal, Transaid, AMREF, Mothers2mothers, Life For African Mothers, the Girl Child Education Fund and 28 Too Many.
Looking forward to her impending departure, Sophia said:
“I am very pleased that this project has finally come to fruition after a lot of hard work and training. I am grateful and delighted to have the support of several charities and organisations who are all working towards bettering maternal health across the globe.
“Currently, too many women die, or become seriously ill, while pregnant and during childbirth with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for over half of all maternal deaths worldwide.
“I hope that this journey further highlights the inequalities in women’s health care that we see globally and goes some way to making a difference in the lives of the women we visit.”
Professor James Walker, RCOG Senior Vice President (Global Health), added:
“Maternal mortality rates have declined over the past decade but this trend must continue. There needs to be an increase in awareness of the local problems with an increase in the number of skilled health workers in emergency obstetric care centres in the under resourced world.
“The RCOG supports Sophia’s work and is proud to sponsor her journey as she promotes safer childbirth for women in countries with the high rates of maternal mortality. Her visits will bring the problems to the attention of the outside world.
“All women should be able to have a child in a safe environment with the necessary supportive care. We need to work harder to continue to improve maternal health worldwide.”