Tag Archives: Save the Children

Bishoftu Hospital’s Maternity Ward

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.

Kangaroo Mother Care
One of the things about African hospitals is that when women come to deliver their babies they must bring their own bedding. Here is bedding hanging out to dry near the maternity ward.

Maternity ward bedding
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 .

Ambulance Service - Bishoftu

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.

I am in Ethiopia as a guest of Save of the Children and their Every Beat Matters campaign to document  frontline health care workers and health programs in Ethiopia.

Photos: Jennifer James

Family Planning in Ethiopia

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

Do You Know an Amazing Health Worker?

Health workers are typically the unsung heroes around the world. They help women deliver their babies in health facilities, they treat babies who are too weak to thrive and even care for wounded civilians during time of war. Health workers assess our problems and patch us up the best they know how. And in developing countries where health workers are vital to the survival of communities their work is even more critical.

Save the Children along with Frontline Health Workers Coalition have created the REAL Awards where deserving United States-based health workers will be honored for the sacrifice and commitment they exhibit through their work.

If there is a doctor or nurse who inspires you be sure to nominate them for the REAL Awards. The deadline is today, November 29 – not too late to show someone you appreciate that you care.

Read more at www.therealawards.com/nominate.

Photo: Save the Children

Download New Song “Feel Again”, Support Child Health

Seven million children worldwide die before their 5th birthday each year. These early deaths are caused largely by preventable diseases like malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea and neonatal complications. This September Save the Children, the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and 120 countries around the world, and the Ad Council will officially launch the Every Beat Matters campaign to help prevent these child deaths.

Every Beat Matters seeks to provide basic health care for children around the world and shine a light on the health workers that work tirelessly to keep them alive. In honor of the Every Beat Matters campaign the band OneRepublic created a new song, Feel Again, to celebrate the lives of children everywhere. For every download of Feel Again a portion of the proceeds will go to Every Beat Matters. In fact, in the beginning of Feel Again you can hear the heartbeats of children from Malawi and Guatamala.

“OneRepublic has done something very magical and children around the world stand to benefit,” said Save the Children’s President & CEO, Carolyn Miles. “Just as children’s heartbeats inspired ‘Feel Again,’ this powerful song can inspire people to help save children’s lives. They can do that by downloading the song by joining Save the Children’s newborn and child survival campaign at EveryBeatMatters.org.”

To help and join the movement to keep children alive through basic health care visit: 

EveryBeatMatters.org | @EveryBeatMatters | Facebook.com/EveryBeatMatters

Photo: EveryBeatMatters/ Save the Children

A Woman’s Right to Basic Family Planning and Why It is Important

There is a worldwide problem facing women: the lack of access to and education about family planning. What makes this issue so compelling and absolutely important to me as a mother is  access to contraceptives in developing countries will save the lives of mothers and babies. Period. I cannot imagine not being able to choose when I want to have a baby when I am the one who has to deliver her. Family planning is every woman’s right.

Family planning can save the lives of over 100,000 women each year who would be able to space their pregnancies in healthier intervals. Additionally, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) analysis found that if all birth-to-pregnancy intervals were increased to 3 years, 1.6 million under-5 deaths could be prevented annually (1). And according to UNFPA, 222 million women in the developing world want to avoid/ plan pregnancies (2). Even more importantly, according to Save the Children family planning can drastically save the lives of teenage girls between the ages of 15 – 19. Pregnancy is the number one killer of teenage girls in the world who live in developing countries according to Save the Children’s new report (3).

On July 11, 2012 the world will take note of the pivotal issue of family planning on World Population Day alongside the London Family Planning Summit hosted by the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The summit will call for greater country commitments to family planning as well as resources to provide family planning access to 120 million women worldwide.

1. Healthy Timing and Spacing in Pregnancies: A Family Planning Investment Strategy for Accelerating the Pace of Improvements in Child Survival

2. UNFPA – World Population Day 2012

3. Every Woman’s Right: How Family Planning Saves Children’s Lives

Photo: United Nations