Lib Yaleh - “If You Have Heart”
A song for maternal and child health in Ethiopia
Executive Producer Michael Frishkopf
Professor of Music
Director, Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology
If you have heart, a song in support of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, was funded by Global Affairs Canada development (ex-CIDA), through a Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry grant in collaboration with St. Paul's hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This song addresses a fundamental problem in Ethiopian society: though staffed health centres are available throughout the country, too many Ethiopian women don’t use them to give birth. As a result, maternal and infant mortality rates are tragically high, particularly in rural areas. One of the main causes is thought to be husbands’ traditional thinking, that woman should give birth at home.
What kind of song? What should it say? Who should it address?
We discussed this issue. A song is a vehicle; it carries a charge. Thought or feeling? Should we pack it with information? Or emotion?
We realized that the song must address not only women, but the entire family, and especially husbands
We decided that after an initial informational panel the video would become simply a love song. A tragic love song, the song of a man who has lost his wife and child. He sings in grief, and the audience weeps with him, and remembers.
We will now show the penultimate draft of this song. One small problem is the speed of the initial titles, so I’ll read them.
"Tragically, in Ethiopia over 1 in every 250 pregnancies results in the death of the mother, and 1 in 30 the death of a newborn baby.
An Ethiopian woman’s lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy is 1 in 48. Every year about 13,000 women die during pregnancy, almost half of them on the actual day they deliver.
The Ethiopian government has ensured that there is a health centre within reach of every community, staffed with skilled birth attendants. At health centres, women receive proper care and medicine throughout pregnancy, and maternal deaths are rare. Statistics show that women who give birth at health centres, and their babies, are far less likely to die of complications.
But due to lack of knowledge and awareness, expectant mothers don’t always go to these facilities for care, nor are they brought by their families.
These senseless deaths can be prevented …
If you have heart.”