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Supporters help prevent stillbirths in rural Ethiopia

Learn about a project reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality in Africa

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

Sara Abdulkadir (above) smiles as she looks into the eyes of her newborn healthy baby boy, Kalid. “My son is giving me so much joy, praise to the Lord,” says the 27-year-old who lives in a village in the Amhara National Regional state in Ethiopia’s Oromia Administrative zone.

Almost two years ago, the new mom was grieving the stillbirth of her first child, a circumstance that’s far too common in many parts of Africa, including Sara’s hometown where there’s poor maternal health as well as inadequate prenatal care.

Many women like Sara often suffer side effects, such as bleeding, following a stillbirth where there was inadequate medical care. And, the negative stigma associated with the loss forces mothers like Sara to grieve in silence — without community support. Unfortunately, recovering from the mortifying glances of others in her neighbourhood takes a long time — often until another baby is born healthy.

So, the birth of Kalid is a source of relief, pride and joy. Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is eager to create even more happy stories like this through the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM) project in Sara’s neighbourhood. Supported by the Government of Canada, the initiative focuses on reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality.

As part of the project, community discussions are improving the knowledge of pregnant women and mothers. Health workers lead the meetings, which encourage moms like Sara to attend prenatal appointments to monitor their health and the well-being of their unborn child. Those gathered also learn about preventing infectious diseases during pregnancy, nutritious eating and healthy sleeping positions. The goal is to end traditional home deliveries by highlighting the importance of birthing in a health facility with the support of a professional.

While encouraging mothers to go to health facilities is essential to saving their lives and their children’s, quality care is also encouraged. Unfortunately, when the project began, most local health centres had inadequate health workers, equipment, medicine and other amenities critical to providing quality services.

“The integrated support our health institution received from the project has greatly enhanced the quality of health service we offer to mothers and children in our community,” explains Nuru Mohammed, head nurse of Weledi Health Center. “These include training our staff, providing us with medical equipment, stretchers and mobilizing communities to use the improved health services.”

The Weledi health facility now supports 54 more births per month than two years ago. One of those births was the safe delivery of Kalid by Nuru who was among the 368 health workers trained through the project.

Help support new moms in rural Ethiopia get the care they deserve. Learn how.

Check back for more success stories about CAIA-MNCM, which runs until 2020.

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More about Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality:

The Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality is a partnership among four Canadian organizations — Amref Health Africa, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and WaterAid Canada. With support of $24.9 million from the Government of Canada (85 percent of the total project budget), this four-year project (2016 to 2020) aims to directly reach 1.7-million women, children and men across 20 districts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. The partners are working together with African communities to improve the delivery of essential health services to moms, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five; increase the use of these improved health services; and improve the consumption of nutritious foods and supplements.

About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For nearly 60 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.