Helping mothers and children to survive and thrive has always been the main goal of Doctors with Africa CUAMM’s commitment, particularly in the most challenging contexts. The work in Goro Woreda, in Ethiopia, together with our partner Women and Children First UK and funding from Comic Relief, is a concrete example of how lives can be saved by improving reproductive, maternal and newborn health through strengthened access to quality healthcare services and dissemination of “home-care practices”.
The joint action has made possible to reach nearly 39, 893 beneficiaries of 100 different communities. In particular, 100 women’s groups have been established with the aim of identifying priority maternal and newborn health issues and enabling the communities to find sustainable solutions to overcome them – all this using a participatory approach. The groups’ activities have been led by the so called “health development army leaders”, namely 345 women and peer mothers trained on maternal and newborn health, from hygiene and disease prevention to danger signs and the importance of healthcare services. The groups have therefore become learning spaces and at the same time, safe spaces where women can share fears, experiences and taboos, drawing on mutual support. In addition to helping communities, 4 health centres throughout the Woreda have received medical equipment, supplies and drugs to ensure the continuity of healthcare services.
These actions have resulted in great achievements: skilled birth attendance has increased to 77% and the number of safe deliveries handled by skilled birth attendants up by 13% compared to the surrounding areas where no groups activities took place. Moreover, there was a 8% increase of deliveries with major obstetric complications successfully treated in a health facility. Finally, among the most significant achievements, there is sustainability: 80% of women’s health groups continue to run after projects come to an end.
This is therefore not an intervention focused only on health, but also aimed to strengthen women’s empowerment to benefit the community as whole. Together, they find and develop local solutions to transform their health.
Once again, solidarity and “joining forces” turn out to be fundamental for a better health.