Home | News    Tuesday 14 April 2009

Ethiopia launches health project to curb maternal mortality

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By Tesfa-alem Tekle

April 13, 2009 (MEKELLE) – Ethiopia jointly with the world’s largest source of population funding, has officially launched a three year programme on integrated emergency obstetric surgery in Tigray’s Mekelle town of Ayder hospital. The project aims to curb the high rate maternal mortality the nation is facing as a result of obstetric complications.

According to figures from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at last 25,000 women die each year in Ethiopia as a result of obstetric complications most of them occur among the rural poor. More over around half a million Ethiopian women suffer life-Long injuries like fistula to same Problem.

"Though significant progress has been made by Ethiopia in terms of reducing maternal mortality, there is still a huge challenge ahead,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Health.

“The MSc programme will be instrumental in strengthening the efforts being exerted to save mothers’ lives through the provision of access to emergence obstetric care services”. He added.

In Ethiopia there is a huge inequality in access to Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) services between rural/urban and rich/poor. The c-section rate according to the Ethiopian Demographic and health survey (EDHS) 2005 is only 1% with almost all being done in urban areas. Only 6% of births occur in a health facility attended by skilled health personnel. So it is no surprise that there is a high rate of maternal death in the country.

Dr. Monique Rakotomalala, UNFPA representative to Ethiopia asserted the UN support of this programme to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality in the country particularly in remote rural areas.

“This programme will increase the capacity on Non physician Clinicians to provide integrated emergency obstetrics and surgery; to the most deprived trench of the population-living where there is no doctor and struggling to survive while giving life.” Rakotomalala further said.

One in 16 Women in Sub-Saharan Africa will die as a result of Childbirth or pregnancy. In developed regions, the figure is about 1 in 2,800 given these disparities.

During the lunch ceremony, UNFPA donated eight ambulances worth a total of 360,000 USD which will be used to support the MSc programme and the Regional Health Bureaus where the programmed is going to be implemented .

After the completion of the MSc programme, the health professionals will have the necessary skills and competencies to provide comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC), including emergency surgery.

Currently, more than 50% of African courtiers have programmers that train non-physicians in integrated emergency obstetric surgery and Ethiopia has joined that league.

The experiences in four African courtiers with such programmers-Mozambique , Malawi, Tanzamia, and Zambia shows that the retention rate of these mid-level professionals has been much better than rates for Obstetricians, Gynecologists or General Practitioners. Moreover, the cost of training, deployment and remuneration was much lower compared with the cost of training physicians.

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