Media centre

Great expectations: six mothers, six babies, six countries

WHO launches final chapter of web photo feature

Happy 1st birthday, babies!

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes the final chapter of Great expectations, the web photo series which followed the experiences of six mothers in six countries during their pregnancies, and their lives with their babies during the first year.

In this chapter, the six babies celebrate their first birthdays. We learn about how the babies are progressing - what they are eating, whether they are walking or still crawling, and how their families are coping with an increasingly active and inquisitive young person in their midst.

"Our objective with Great expectations was to bring the important issue of pregnancy and childbirth to life, and to make the stories of six women and their babies accessible to a global audience," said Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General of Family and Community Health at WHO. "I believe we have succeeded. Great expectations is about real people. It shows that no matter where we live, and how different our lives, our hopes and dreams for our children are universal. It is possible to make pregnancy and childbirth a celebration of life for every family."

Claire Roche, from the United Kingdom, is one of the six mothers who took part in Great expectations with her baby Isabella. "I was a bit apprehensive about photographs being taken of me at different stages of my pregnancy, especially birth," she says, "but I can honestly say that this was a wonderful experience and I am grateful to have been given the chance to take part. It was especially fascinating to compare my experience with women living in different parts of the world - many of them from very poor countries - and I realize how lucky I am to have had a health service at hand. When Isabella is older it will be lovely to show her the story of how she made it into the world!"

The other mothers and babies who took part are: Damiana and Alberth from Bolivia, Samah and Basant from Egypt, Hiwot and Elizabeth from Ethiopia, Renu and Monica from India, and Bounlid and Lang from Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Great expectations was launched 18 months ago to highlight World Health Day 2005 - the theme of which was maternal and child health. In a world where more than half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth every year and where nearly 11 million children each year do not survive beyond their fifth birthday, Great expectations aims to raise awareness of the challenges we face as a global community in improving maternal and newborn health. The feature also draws attention to the need to meet the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal deaths by three quarters, and reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015.

Related links

For more information contact:

Rebecca Harding
Communications Officer, WEB team
World Health Organization
Telephone: +41 22 791 3229