Giving Birth in a Foreign Land: Exploring the Maternal Healthcare Experiences of Zimbabwean Migrant Women Living in Johannesburg, South Africa

Makandwa, T. & Vearey, J. Urban Forum (2017) 28: 75. doi:10.1007/s12132-017-9304-5 OPEN ACCESS

Maternal mortality in South Africa is unacceptably high, and interventions to address this are urgently needed. Whilst urban centres, such as Johannesburg, are home to significant numbers of non-national migrant women, little is known about their maternal healthcare experiences. In order to inform future research, an exploratory study investigating the maternal healthcare and help-seeking experiences of migrant women living in inner-city Johannesburg was undertaken.

South Africa has alarming numbers of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Whilst South Africa lacks verifiable means of counting maternal deaths, estimates of overall maternal mortality (MMR) for 2007/2008 have ranged from 310 or more per 100,000 live births and most of these are caused by indirect causes (Burton 2013; Silal et al. 2012). Although MMR dropped significantly to 197 per 100,000 births in 2011, primarily as a result of extensive provision of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to pregnant women (Dorrington et al. 2014), this remains unacceptably high for a middle-income country such as South Africa.

About Jo Vearey

Jo Vearey is a Professor and the Director of the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand. She holds an Honorary Fellowship with the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, and a Senior Fellowship at the Centre for Peace, Development and Democracy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 2015, Jo was awarded a Humanities and Social Science Wellcome Trust Investigator Award. Jo holds a MSc in the Control of Infectious Diseases (LSHTM, 2003), a PhD in Public Health (Wits, 2010), and has been rated by the National Research Foundation as a Young Researcher. In 2014 and 2015, Jo received a Friedel Sellschop Award from the University of the Witwatersrand for outstanding young researchers. She was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2013, at the UNESCO Chair on Social and Spatial Inclusion of Migrants, University of Venice (SSIM-IUAV), Venice, Italy.

With a commitment to social justice and the development of pro-poor policy responses, Jo’s research explores international, regional, national and local responses to migration, health, and urban vulnerabilities. Her research interests focus on urban health, public health, migration and health, the social determinants of health, HIV, informal settlements and sex work. Jo is particularly interested in knowledge production, dissemination and utilisation including the use of visual and arts-based methodologies.

Jo has a range of international collaborations, including an ESRC-NRF funded project with the University of Edinburgh, a WOTRO funded project with the VU University, Amsterdam on migration and sex work, and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine‘s Faculty of Public Health and Policy and Gender, Violence and Health Unit.

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