This week I am a guest of Save the Children on an observational trip in Ethiopia. I, along with three distinguished US nurses, are here to learn about Ethiopia’s frontline health workers, the 38,000 women strong health extension workers. The health extension workers were put into place by the Ethiopian government in 2003 and now through the work of Save the Children and other partners, health extension workers can diagnose and treat malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, diarrhea and can also administer implantable and injectable contraceptives.
You can learn more about frontline health workers on Save the Children’s new site: Every Beat Matters
In speaking with Dr. Birkety Mengistu, the Maternal Newborn Child Health Advisor at Save the Children’s Addis Ababa’s office, we learned that there is an ample supply of family planning options for any woman who wants it. There are, however, cultural taboos about contraceptives causing many women to forego family planning altogether.
29% of married women in Ethiopia use family planning services according to Pathfinder. And according to Save the Children 30 – 40% of family planning needs are currently being unmet.
With the vast majority of Ethiopian still living as subsistence farmers and each woman having on average 4.8 children it is essential for women to not only have access to family planning, but also a shift in cultural imperatives that dissuade women from making decisions about their own lives.
To learn more about Save the Children’s work on family planning read: Every woman’s right: How family planning saves children’s lives (pdf).
Photo: United Nations
Today I am attending the Child Survival Call to Action Summit at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I am attending as media as a part of the ONE Moms Advisory Board. If you would like to join a group of mothers who work specifically to eradicate global poverty be sure to join us at www.one.org/moms.
Some of the early speakers at the Child Survial Call to Action Summit were Dr. Raj Shah, Administrator for USAID, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Minister of Health for Ethiopia, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Health and Family Welfare for India, Secretary Clinton, and Ben Affleck.
I will write a more in-depth recap of the event, but early on I wanted to share some photos of the morning. Follow the #5thBirthday and #Promise4Children to follow conversation around the event.
I am excited to announce our very first knowledge partner, IDEAS, a program launched in the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Over the course of our partnership we will share a great deal from IDEAS’ research in Ethiopia, India, and Nigera about maternal and newborn health.
IDEAS (Informed Decisions for Actions) aims to improve the health and survival of mothers and babies through generating evidence to inform policy and practice. Working in Ethiopia, North-Eastern Nigeria and the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, IDEAS uses measurement, learning and evaluation to find out what works, why and how in maternal and newborn health programmes.
Follow IDEAS’ blog at http://ideas.lshtm.ac.uk/blog
Follow IDEAS on Twitter at @LSHTM_IDEAS.
Mother with children in Ethiopia, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Visiting a rural village in Uttar Pradesh: Dr Bilal Avan, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.