What happens to pregnant women when a humanitarian catastrophe strikes?

Belly Woman shines a light on a story often left untold.

May, 2014. Sierra Leone is ranked the country with the highest death rate of pregnant women in the world. The same month, Ebola crosses in from neighbouring Guinea. Arriving a few weeks later, Dr Benjamin Black finds himself at the centre of an exponential Ebola outbreak. From impossible decisions on the maternity ward to moral dilemmas at the Ebola Treatment Centres. One mistake, one error of judgment, could spell disaster.

An eye-opening work of reportage and advocacy, Belly Woman chronicles the inside journey through an unfolding global health crisis and the struggle to save the lives of young mothers. As Black reckons with the demons of the past, he must try to learn the lessons for a different, more resilient, future.

Where to buy Belly Woman


The Moore Prize for Human Rights Writing 2023

Belly Woman: Birth, Blood & Ebola – The Untold Story has been chosen as the best book with a human rights theme, published between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023.

The Jury commented: “The winner, Belly Woman, was an extraordinary book on many levels. In telling the story of the Ebola and Covid crises in Sierra Leone, Black wrote in a moving way about its victims, highlighting the voices of women, giving them agency.  Their stories were interwoven to powerfully illustrate how a doctor in the field can practice medicine in ways that guide the advancement of global health and human rights. On a different level, he also showed the disparities between the global north and south through a human rights lens, reminding us that these health crises are not a new phenomenon, and that the international community has repeatedly been incapable of protecting human rights.”

Reviews of Belly Woman

Read this book.

Trisha Greenhalgh professor of primary care at the University of Oxford

LSE Review of Books

The book is both a powerful story of how medics of all nationalities strived to save lives against the odds and a deeply personal, sharply political book about the existing inadequacies of women’s reproductive healthcare which were tragically magnified during Ebola.


The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Book Review of Belly Woman

Protecting pregnant women in an Ebola outbreak

“Every aspect of sexual and reproductive health is impacted”: The hidden toll of Ebola.

Belly Woman author interview in GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance (online)