Dr Shane Strachan and Shelagh Barr have recently returned from a trip to Zimbabwe to advance links between the health and arts communities in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city which is twinned with Aberdeen. The visit was part of an exchange programme between the two cities and is a result of a grant awarded by Aberdeen City Council to Immpact through its twinned cities funding scheme.
The ultimate goal of the exchange programme is to benefit the lives of women in childbirth in and around Bulawayo through a suite of public engagement activities designed to stimulate the interest of a public audience. The first phase was centred on the creation of a play commissioned by Immpact to raise awareness of transport and referral barriers faced by pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Aberdeen to Bulawayo leg of the exchange took place in September. The United Bulawayo Hospitals Trust and Bulawayo City Council played host to Dr Strachan and Shelagh Barr during their visit and a number of useful contacts were made across sectors including health, local government, media publishing and the arts. Ideas for follow on public engagement activities in Bulawayo include an arts space in the two main maternity hospitals and a series of writing workshops to collect personal stories from women about their experiences during childbirth.