By: Bethel Tsehai, M.P.H. (@bethel_tsehai)
January 2, 2012
The most basic of human rights, the right to health and life, are greatly disproportionate in developing countries such as Ethiopia. Particularly in the area of maternal health, the number of preventable maternal deaths, stillbirths, newborn deaths, and birth related injuries are astounding. To put things into perspective, it is estimated that more than 500,000 Ethiopian women and girls will suffer from injuries caused by complications during pregnancy and childbirth each year.
The issue of maternal health is so great that improving maternal health is one of the Millennium Development Goals for 2015. In order to address many of the preventable birth and pregnancy related injuries and deaths, the World Health Organization recommends that countries work towards the goal of having skilled birth attendants, such as midwifes, who have received formal education in the area of pregnancy and childbirth be present at every birth.
The Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia has taken this recommendation to heart and developed a program in midwifery. Unlike students attending vocational schools, the students of Hamlin College of Midwives will be given a formal education and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Midwifery. With a population of nearly 80 million in Ethiopia, there are only 1,000 qualified midwives. Despite this daunting challenge, the College is committed to educating midwives and equipping them with the tools needed to care for and educate women in the area of maternal health.
The Midwives Scholarship Fund (MSF) project under EGI is working towards raising funds to support the education of at least eight midwives attending the Hamlin College of Midwives. Through supporting the education of midwives, MSF is taking part in becoming a part of the solution in maternal health.
In light of the holiday season, I encourage you to support our efforts by donating or raising funds to educate midwives. Well trained and skilled midwives are the key to reducing the disparities facing women in Ethiopia today.
Bethel Tsehai, M.P.H. is the Project Manager of the Midwives Scholarship Fund at the Ethiopian Global Initiative.