UNC sophomore Isabella Grandić is on a mission to change the sphere of women’s healthcare.
Earlier this month, she set out with a goal to walk 12 hours to highlight inaccessible healthcare for women in developing countries.
This walk was inspired by a project focused on Nigeria, which Grandić said has high maternal mortality rates. A spark ignited within her to bring about change, but being in the midst of COVID, she struggled to find ways to help these women from the other side of the globe.
Grandić had no choice but to get creative.
She decided to research via Google Maps where hospitals are located in relation to the densely populated areas in Jigawa, the state in Nigeria her research was focused on. She then interviewed local citizens, doctors and members of a local health non-profit to gain a more personalized perspective regarding the issue.
“I looked, and I was like, ‘it's a six hour walk away, which means a pregnant person would have to walk six hours one way and six hours back, just to go to the nearest hospital,'” Grandić said. “No wonder less than 10 percent of births actually happen in a facility.”
Upon realizing the depth of the issue, Grandić decided to place herself in these women’s shoes. She walked from one side of Toronto, her hometown, to the other and back, traversing nearly 50 kilometers — or over 30 miles.
Grandić said how physically exhausting the walk was, saying she could barely walk in the days after.
Completing this initial research fueled Grandić’s passion for women’s health as she learned through personal experiences and discussions with maternal healthcare professionals that there is a concerning lack of awareness.