Looking at Maternal Health: Ethiopia
I think all of us have a story of ourselves or a friend of ours who had a scare during pregnancy or childbirth. Whether it was something like preeclampsia, an emergency c-section, or post delivery bleeding, those stories remind us enough of our advances in medical care to send a quick prayer in thankfulness for our health. However, beyond watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie, childbirth complications really don’t enter our mind very often. Yet, in Ethiopia, it is estimated that 25,000 women die of childbirth complications a year and another 500,000 are disabled long term by these effects (UNFPA). These sad statistics are actually after a slight increase of how many mothers delivered with the assistance of someone skilled at deliveries – though mostly in urban areas and much less in rural areas. Most of the medical complications that we experience in our American delivery rooms are not much different than what these Ethiopian women experience. They just happen to be in a hut, without any emergency care, and with little ability to change their situation.So, what are the solutions? Like you might have guessed – they are not quick, cheap or simple, beyond the basic idea that these women need access to health care. However, with the complications of child marriage and female genital mutilation, getting to a quick hospital is only part of the picture. So, what has worked in the midst of other struggles in Ethiopia?Well, we can be thankful that the child mortality rate has reduced by 39 percent (USAID) most likely through overall healthcare assistance, child sponsorship, and educational programs. Even though Ethiopia experienced (and is still experiencing) an extreme famine in the Horn of Africa, many ADPs (Area Development Programs) that were established on good planning and community development are surviving in the midst of a country that has experienced great devastation. So, once again we look at the fullness of community development – the wholeness of picture to be the support system in this bleak situation of maternal deaths.
Yes – emergency obstetrics is a HUGE push. We need to give these women a chance at life – for themselves, for their children! No more families need to be without their mothers. No more mothers need to be wondering who is there to help them as they are trying to do this beautiful thing of bringing their child into the world. So, we will be there for them. We will work towards this kind of healthcare.
And, yes – we will push on ahead toward what we know about the fullness of community development. We will move forward to solve the other complicating problems in child sponsorship to prevent child marriage, in girl education to reduce child mortality rates, in advocating to stop female genital mutilation, and in the transformation of communities that only comes through the love of God.
We are all women and mothers and sisters…in America and Ethiopia. A mom looking at her newborn child in America and a mom looking at her newborn child in Ethiopia – the background may be different, but awe, sacrificial love, and desire to strive to give them the best is the same. As you thank God in remembrance again for our country’s healthcare in childbirth, consider giving a gift toward the maternal health of women in Ethiopia today. We are all women and mothers and sisters.
by Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT