August 6, 2020
Documentary - The shape of motherhood

About the documentary

The film is part and parcel of a wider research project Efua Prah is developing on “Reproductive Histories and Presents”.  Through the making of this film, Efua re-engaged with some of the young people she worked with during her doctoral research years. Thus the documentary film is an extension of a 10-year-working history. This allows for a longitudinal study to emerge and for her to further explore the inheritances of unequal pasts that continue to mould the futures of South Africans.

The wider body of work of which this documentary film is part, investigates the conditions within which preterm labour occurs and mechanisms that need to be put in place to reduce negative incidents. Currently, 37% of all under-five deaths in South Africa are attributed to neonatal mortality. Furthermore, 30% of that group are due to premature births. Much of this is because of South Africa’s stark regional and racial differences, where rates of perinatal mortality are grossly unequal across racial and economic demographics. These realities are exacerbated by economic inequities embedded within the healthcare sector, where private facilities have an annual expenditure that exceeds what is spent in the public sector by almost ten times.

Preterm labour resulting in neonatal death or stillbirth is a deeply traumatic, life-changing occurrence that can be easily avoided. However, it is possible to reduce the high incidence of death related to preterm labour if we are able to build complex adaptive health systems that are able to respond to the needs of every member of society living in South Africa. Indeed, we all deserve the opportunity to develop healthy families supported by a national health service. As we move into a new era of global pandemics, flailing economies and a promised delivery of National Health Insurance, now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to focus our attention on wider public health issues. When we achieve better health outcomes for pregnant women, we build a stronger, healthier society.

About the filmmakers

Efua is trained as a medical and visual anthropologist. She is passionate about delivering narrative-style documentaries that showcase the myriad social justice challenges experienced in society. She is currently a lecturer in medical anthropology at Stellenbosch University.

Kim is a qualified sound engineer who has experience in lighting, Audio-Visual Techniques, and video editing. She works as a freelance video editor and is passionate about hiking, animal welfare and eco-sustainability. She is passionate about using film to generate important conversations around nature conservation, and social justice issues.