Juliana is one of the voices in Malawi strongly advocating for maternal health in the country having had worked in the health sector for a number of years and with various organizations that advocate for maternal and newborn health and sexual and reproductive health.
She could be described as the voice for the voiceless women in the rural areas who are struggling for quality access to health services. You will hear her voice in parliament asking the government to do more towards the health sector. You will hear her using every opportunity and platform to advocate for the good health of pregnant women who can’t afford the basic medicine or services at a health facility.
Being bold for change means just doing it and believing that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even if it means making a mistake along the way or being labelled as a failure.
Juliana is a young woman who holds a Masters of Science Degree in Nursing focusing on Community Health Work. She has used all her skills and experience in advocating for quality health care to young people, pregnant mothers and babies so that they receive quality health care.
“Often in times when we talk about maternal health; most people focuses on the pregnant woman. However, we have to remember that it’s a cycle, starting with the adolescent girl and their whole reproductive health cycle. Similarly, our emphasis on pregnancy must also take cognisant of the antenatal period, postnatal period, where issues of family planning are key as well as the first 28days of the newborn where survival remains critical especially in our setting.” explains Juliana.
Juliana dates back her passion for maternal health to 2005 when she coordinated the first ever Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) in Malawi which was conducted by the Ministry of health with support from WHO, UNFPA and Unicef.
As International Women’s Day honours women who have achieved something great and are contributing to the society positively, the day and its theme has a positive resonance to Juliana in her capacity as the chairperson of one of the most vibrant committees in parliament. She believes that the position she holds has put her at the right place to raise the issues that are deeply rooted in her heart.
As the chairperson of parliamentary committee on health, it means I have been strategically positioned so I can advocate for the change process to make women’s health better and at the centre piece of development in Malawi.
Juliana says this when asked what be bold for change means to her.Those who follow her work would agree with this as she has used her position remarkably well. But despite being able to present the issues, the road does at times seem long and hard as there are some challenges along the way. She points out that one of the most challenging aspect to the job is when people are rigid to change. But she is able to overcome this challenge by demonstrating what needs to be achieved and teach the people to have a sense of responsibility towards issues in their community.
An individual can contribute to a change in a process or system but only to a certain extent. Juliana has realized this and so she calls upon every person to do something towards maternal and newborn health to see the country progressing in reducing maternal deaths.
I want people to be part of the process where they have to participate. I want people to follow the rules and be able to nominate themselves for change. I just call upon everybody to JUST DO IT!
MamaYe Malawi salutes Juliana Lunguzi on this International Women’s Day, as a woman who has epitomized the theme #BeBoldForChange for her advocacy work in maternal health.