Capacity building of the health system

Strengthening competencies and training of health workers is key to maternal and newborn health and survival in low-and-middle-income countries. Maternity Foundation conducts clinical trainings of health care providers both pre-service and in-service with the aim of increasing the quantity and quality of skilled birth attendants.

Since 2013 Maternity Foundation has been a central partner of the Ethiopian regional health authorities’ Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn care (BEmONC) training programme. BEmONC training is corner stone of Maternity Foundation’s strategy to improve the skills of health workers and enable them to offer life-saving care. With accreditation as a training institution under the government program, Maternity Foundation has educated a substantial number of health providers in BEmONC from a large catchment area.

Maternity Foundation also advocates to ensure that health facilities are supplied with drugs and medical equipment essential to a safe birthing environment.

Empowerment of the local community

In order to ensure that more women and families seek skilled care during pregnancy and labor, it is of crucial importance to empower the local community to take responsibility for and play an active part in improving women and children’s health and survival. Maternity Foundation does this through two empowerment components.

1. Community Health Education:
Lifesaving awareness on reproductive, maternal and newborn health issues is established at household level through a trickle down system with local change agents. The change agents are trained in topics such as danger signals during pregnancy and delivery, family planning, the importance of antenatal care and skilled birth attendance. Once they have been trained they disseminate the health education messages at village level. Changes agents may be women group leaders, traditional male village leaders, traditional birth attendants, religious leaders, youth, front-line health workers.

2. Livelihood strengthening:
Improvement of impoverished women’s socioeconomic position and rights is carried out through training in small-scale business management and access to micro-loans, savings and loan associations, and income generating cooperatives.

Mobile Health

Half of the world’s population now has a mobile phone subscription—up from just one in five 10 years ago, and by 2020 approximately 3.8 billion men and women across the developing world will be connected to the internet via mobile. Capitalizing on the opportunity brought about by the growing ubiquity of the mobile phone, many Ministries of Health in low and middle income countries (LMICs) have incorporated mHealth in their health strategies.

Maternity Foundation has positioned itself as a strong actor within the emerging field of mHealth with solutions such as The Safe Delivery App, which is currently being implemented across sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. The Safe Delivery App is a smartphone application that provides skilled birth attendants with direct and instant access to evidence-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines on Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care.

For more information about The Safe Delivery App, please go to www.safedelivery.org.

Maternity Foundation also uses mHealth to reach pregnant women and mothers of newborns in Ethiopia. The pregnant women and/or mothers of newborns can be enrolled with a mobile phone number to receive text messages with health information and appointment reminders tailored to their progressive gestatio­nal age, or the age of their baby. This model has proven to increase demand for antenatal care and skilled birth attendance.