Tag Archives: Ethiopia

Ethiopian Health Workers Receive Influx of Family Planning Training

In sub-Saharan Africa, 49 million women use traditional methods of family of no family planning methods at all. In Ethiopia, 39.1 percent of women use modern contraceptives up from 15 percent in 2005. The current low rate of contraceptive use in Ethiopia is a result of a combination of factors: cultural biases as well as a lack of trained health workers that can reach every woman in the country. Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populated country behind Nigeria with 90 million people and only has a few hundred OBGYNs. There is currently only one obstetrician for 1.8 million women in Ethiopia.

That said, Ethiopia’s federal government has done an exceptional job training health workers since its Health Extension Workers program officially launched in 2003. Now 34,000 women strong, Ethiopians are afforded access to skilled health workers in their villages and cities, but there is still an unmet need for reproductive health and family planning services from health professionals.

The University of Michigan was recently gifted an anonymous $25 million dollar grant to train Ethiopian doctors in reproductive health services.  University of Michigan’s new Center for International Reproductive Health Training will train incoming doctors, nurses and midwives in comprehensive family planning services at seven medical schools across Ethiopia. The first phase of the grant will be used to build upon the work the University of Michigan is already doing at St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa.

Thomas Mekuria, third-year resident in OB/GYN at St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Thomas Mekuria, third-year resident in OB/GYN at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Every day, women across the globe are dying and suffering from poor health outcomes because they don’t have access to high quality, comprehensive reproductive health care,” says Senait Fisseha, M.D., J.D., the center’s director in a statement.  Fisseha, who was born in Ethiopia, is a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at the U-M Health System.

“We are overwhelmingly grateful for this extraordinary grant that allows us to build on our strong foundation of global reproductive health programs and continue to pursue a longtime dream to provide all women a full scope of high quality reproductive health care when and where they need it.”

With a maternal mortality ratio of 420 per 100,000 live births in Ethiopia, family planning services are essential to keep more mothers alive, especially teenage mothers who are not prepared physically to bear children. The average Ethiopian woman has 5.5 children according to the most recent demographic data.

“Our center will help empower women to make their own decisions about their own reproductive health, thereby choosing whether and when to start a family,” Dr. Fisseha continued. “Our ultimate goal is to help train future generations of capable and competent health care providers in many parts of Africa and South Asia who can deliver comprehensive reproductive health services, and also be advocates for the safest and best health care possible at every stage of a woman’s life.”

Photos: Why World Toilet Day Matters

The first time I saw open defecation was in a slum in Delhi. I was taken aback. I had always heard about open defecation, but until that point I had never seen it and couldn’t imagine it happening in an overly crowded urban area. It was also at that moment that I knew I had to learn as much as possible about the ways in which people use the bathroom, if they have one at all.

2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation and 1 billion people do not have access to a bathroom and must resort to the undignified practice of open defecation. There are 7 billion people on the planet.

Women who must defecate in the open and who also have to use the community toilets are at increased risk of violence and rape.

When I visit communities and families in low-income countries I always look for toilets and latrines to see the conditions in which people relieve themselves. Below are some photos of toilets I took in India, Ethiopia, Philippines, and South Africa.

Learn more about World Toilet Day at www.unwater.org/worldtoiletday.

Latrine - South Africa
Community toilet – Alexandra Township – Johannesburg, South Africa
Community toilet - Alexandra Township - Johannesburg, South Africa
Community toilet – Alexandra Township – Johannesburg, South Africa
Community toilet - Alexandra Township - Johannesburg, South Africa
Community toilet – Alexandra Township – Johannesburg, South Africa

Continue reading Photos: Why World Toilet Day Matters

Photos from the Field: NeoNatalie Newborn Educational Mannequin

In low-resource settings across the globe midwives are learning about the critical first hour after birth that can keep more newborns alive through Helping Babies Breathe training. In Yetoban, Ethiopia at Project Mercy midwives take skills labs classes that will utilize the NeoNatalie Newborn educational mannequin. Midwifery training at Project Mercy is through a partnership between Jhpiego, USAID, and Project Mercy that will feed qualified, well-trained midwives throughout southern Ethiopia.

The NeoNatalie Newborn educational mannequin can be filled with water or air and simulates a real newborn that needs to be resuscitated, an intervention that happens often during the first ten minutes of a newborn’s life.

Neonatalie Newborn Educational Mannequin
Neonatalie Newborn Educational Mannequin
Ethiopian students in midwifery training
Ethiopian students in midwifery training
Midwifery training for vaccuum delivery
Midwifery training in Yetoban, Ethiopia at Project Mercy for vaccuum delivery

 Photo: Jennifer James

Photos from the Field: Expectant Mother Seeks Help in “Lie and Wait” House #Ethiopia

Women in Lie and Wait Home

Expectant woman, Ayelech Fikadu, and her mother, Zarge Badunga sit in a “lie and wait” house at Project Mercy outside of Butajira, Ethiopia. The house was recently renovated by USAID and Pathfinder.

Butajira is located in Ethiopia’s southern highlands where many live in the mountains. Women who live in the mountains have a difficult time delivering their babies at a hospital or health center due to a lack of facilities as well as the distance from them.

Ayelech came to this “lie and wait” house because she experienced birth complications. She will deliver her baby at the nearby hospital at Project Mercy that is literally up the street from the “lie and wait” house. Without these services women who experience pregnancy complications have a greater chance of dying during childbirth and their newborns have a decreased chance of survival.

Lie and Wait House



Photos: Jennifer James

Photo From the Field: Nine-Day-Old Newborn


This woman in Mosebo village, 43 kilometers from Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, holds her nine-day-old baby and quickly quiets him by breastfeeding him in her home.

Save the Children is working diligently with the Ethiopian Federal Government to properly train health extension workers and provide continuing education for the workers to help save the lives of vulnerable newborns. Through its widely-recognized, global program, Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children has worked in low- and middle-income countries since 2000 to help newborns survive past the first month of life.

Photo: Jennifer James