‘Mothers at risk’

The work entitled ‘Mothers at risk’ has been awarded the prize of Equality and Women’s Promotion Best Graphic Awards (Print). The work was published in National Geographic (USA) and one of the visual journalists behind the piece, Mónica Serrano, shares with us some of what went in to creating the piece and the challenges they faced.

Could you briefly explain the idea of the story? 

The chart ‘Mothers at Risk’ deals with mortality among women during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum. Surprisingly, the United States is one of the few developed countries where the mortality rate has not decreased in recent decades, despite the advances in medicine in this country.


What was the process of working on the graphic? 

After meeting with the photo and text editors and other team members to discuss the direction the story would take, the first thing we did was contact different organizations such as WHO, CDC and Unicef to find out what kind of record there was of these deaths.

Our article focuses on the case of the United States, so we decided to compare the figures for this country with other developed countries, but we also wanted to give detailed information on which states had more deaths, since the difference is considerable. It was shocking to see how Washington DC, where I live, is one of the regions where the percentage of deaths is highest.

Finally, we decided to add a profile of the women affected. This problem is especially pressing among African Americans and Native Americans, who are almost three times more likely to die than whites.
Once the information was collected, I made a dozen versions for the design of the page until we decided on the one to publish. Finally, we sent the graphic to our sources to make sure there were no errors.

What has been the challenge of this story? 

The biggest challenge in this project was the verification of the data. Due to the existence of laws protecting patient confidentiality, agencies and organizations cannot share very detailed information with the media. We had to work with them to understand their methodology in detail and make sure we represented the information correctly.

Mónica Serrano and Kelsey Nowakowski

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