December 21, 2017

Ole Kirk’s Foundation helps Maternity Foundation reach more mothers and newborns in Ethiopia – and beyond

Four years ago, Maternity Foundation had a vision to scale our maternal health expertise across Ethiopia – and in other countries as well. At the time, we had a well-established on-the-ground Maternal Health Program in West Ethiopia and a newly developed digital health tool, the Safe Delivery App.

The realization of our vision took a major leap forward in 2014, when we established our Regional Hub in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The establishment of the hub was made possible by a donation from Ole Kirk’s Foundation.

Since then, we have succeeded in rolling out our program and midwifery trainings across Ethiopia by working through partners and by positioning ourselves as a key digital maternal health partner for the Ethiopian government. This national scale-up process has been driven by the Regional Hub and its three employees led by Hiwot Wubshet, previous managing director of the Ethiopian Midwives’ Association.

We are very proud and grateful that we recently received a new donation by Ole Kirk’s Foundation to support the further scale-up of our work though the Regional Hub. Thanks to their support, we will in 2018-2019 work to ensure that even more mothers and newborns get access to a safe birth – in Ethiopia and beyond. In Ethiopia, despite on-going improvements of maternal and newborn health, the maternal mortality ratio has remained high. UNFPA estimates that 22.000 Ethiopian women and girls die annually as a result of pregnancy and childbirth complications and an additional 500.000 suffer from pregnancy-related morbidities.

Among the Regional Hub’s key tasks for the coming years is to ensure that the country’s 10.000 midwives get access to the Safe Delivery App’s life-saving clinical guidelines through a new and improved version of the government’s national curricula for emergency obstetrics.

The hub is also coordinating our partnerships with leading NGOs such as AMREF Ethiopia and SOS Children’s Villages. We will work with AMREF to train 300 midwives in five Ethiopian regions through their health program. Together with SOS Children’s Villages, we will continue our work in the Somali Region, which includes community activities focused on maternal and newborn health in general as well as awareness of the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation in particular.

A major milestone in 2017 was a new partnership with the Danish non-profit Børnefonden to train midwives in the Gambella refugee camps in Ethiopia under the coordination of UNHCR. Ethiopia is currently hosting more than 400.000 refugees from South Sudan – the vast majority of them are women and children. This is our first project in a humanitarian setting, which we hope to be able to replicate in other countries as well.

Last, but not least, the hub’s work plays a vital role in the global scale-up of the Safe Delivery App, e.g. by developing and testing training programs that can be used throughout Africa and Asia. As such, Ethiopia and the Regional Hub are the back-bone for Maternity Foundation’s overall goal to reach 20.000 skilled birth attendants across low- and middle-income countries with the Safe Delivery App by end 2018 – thereby help ensuring a safer birth for more than 2 million women.

Photo 1: Meron Tessema (blue shirt), Maternal and Digital Health Advisor at Maternity Foundation’s Regional Hub, conducts a training workshop for midwifery trainers in Addis Ababa.

Photo: Midwife Zinash Teshome uses the Safe Delivery App at a health center in West Ethiopia.