In Ethiopia 90% of all expectant mothers deliver their babies at home, but there are some who are referred by frontline health workers with a recommendation to deliver at a hospital. At Bishoftu hospital, a zone hospital that is located about an hour south of Addis Ababa on the sole road towards Djibouti , 200 women annually give birth at its facility. As an Ethiopian government funded hospital with grants from USAID and implementing partners like Save the Children, all maternity services are free, including C-sections.
For normal deliveries, mothers will remain at Bishoftu for six to 24 hours. For C-sections they will remain at the facility for 2-3 days. In some instances where babies are born prematurely or have heavy complications, the babies must stay in the NICU. Admittedly, Bishoftu’s NICU is small and lacks in high tech tools and equipment. Below are cribs, but in the adjacent room there were attending nurses for the babies and equipment to keep them alive and warm.
Due to the limits of the NICU, Bishoftu hospital does have a Kangaroo Mother Care room where mothers can use the natural way of keeping their premature baby close in order for her to thrive. When we visited a mother was in the room with her tiny baby sitting snug on her chest.
As I walked through the sprawling hospital I was heartened to see that Bishoftu has ambulance service. Typically ambulance service in rural Africa are motorbikes, making getting to the hospital a long, hard, potentially life-threatening journey for pregnant women .
Learn more about frontline health workers at Save the Children’s web site Every Beat Matters. Also, read about my first day in Ethiopia in My First Day in Ethiopia: An Army of Women Fight to Save Lives.
Photos: Jennifer James