Founder Professor Eric Jauniaux reflects on Medical Aid Films’ development

Professor of Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine at University College Hospital, Eric Jauniaux attended the Asian Vision Awards Ceremony to accept the prestigious “Most Enterprising Charity” Award on behalf of Medical Aid Films.

Following the win, we asked Eric to reflect on the beginnings and development of the charity.  From initial discussions with his colleagues in obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr Natalie Greenwold and midwife Fiona Laird, to the present position – and future potential – of Medical Aid Films.

Second from Right – Founder Eric Jauniaux next to CEO Catherine McCarthy with other award winners at the Asian Vision Charity Awards

ERIC JAUNIAUX:

On Friday 17 of May Medical Aid Films was honoured with the “most enterprising charity” award at very impressive ceremony at the 2019 Asian Voice Charity Awards in London – what a great evening we had!

When Natalie, Fiona and I met for the first time in my office in 2006 to work on our application for charity status our main objective was simply to try to democratise medical knowledge.

“…one of the major issues for women giving birth in low and middle income countries is having access to trained health providers.”

Democratising medical knowledge

Fiona had just been back from nine months in Darfur, Sudan and as a midwifery teacher she had organised teaching sessions for local midwives and traditional birth attendants but she had nothing to support her teaching, not to mention the barrier of the languages. Seeing mothers and children dying every day often of preventable causes Fiona realised that delivering education which covered the basics of safe-delivery, hygiene and newborn care at scale could be life-saving. 

We quickly realised that there was no point sending medical books or anything written as very few of local medical health providers could read and write English, French or Portuguese in Sub-Saharan Africa, and so we opted to raise funding to make films and animations instead. 

The medical complications of childbirth around the world are very similar – but the outcomes are of course very different – one of the major issues for women giving birth in low and middle income countries is having access to trained health providers. As obstetricians and midwifes, with many years of clinical experience we knew what the teaching and training needs were, but the next barrier was how to distribute this knowledge.

Digital distribution

We started using DVD but got quickly stuck with the need for DVD-players & screen which were not readily available. Internet access had started to reach low and middle income countries but there was no broadband and no smart phones. It took us 90 min to download one of our five 7-10 minute training films from the Medical Aid Films website during our trips to Kigali, Rwanda in 2007-2009 but we never gave up!

New web platforms and improved access to the internet in more low and middle income countries has made our original dream come true.  For those who still lack adequate internet access we also work with partners delivering training ‘in country’, through mobile phone networks, via SD cards, loaded onto medical devices, on training tablets and in offline digital libraries. We are always looking for digital and innovative ideas to make our films more accessible.

Present and future

Catherine and her team have done an incredible job and we now have more than 300 films in over 25 different languages available for streaming and download across the world.

Some of our films have had more than 3.5 million views and have been seen in over 145 countries, with 300 organisations using our content in education and training alongside 2,200 health professionals and trainers using our films globally.

If we continue to get the support that we need, we can continue to grow our library of content to improve global health education.


The films we produce save lives, and with your support we can continue to bring health education and training to ever wider audiences.

Make a donation today.


Photo at awards ceremony: ©VKumarphotography.com

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