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Maternal-health project makes an impression with ambassador

Sharon Caddy visits a completed CCFC project in Ethiopia and sees how sustainable change is having an impact

By Sharon Caddy, radio personality & CCFC ambassador

During my recent visit to Ethiopia I found myself reflecting on a time 20 years ago when I had my first child. With attention from doctors and staff at a modern hospital, I knew medical staff would be ready to deal with any emergency that presented itself. In rural Ethiopia, the concept of seeking medical attention for childbirth is new — and thriving, largely due to Christian Children’s Fund of Canada’s IMPACT project, which was funded by the government of Canada.

In the past, mothers usually delivered babies at home with the assistance of traditional birth attendants (TBAs). In this scenario, unforeseen medical issues could and, in too many cases, did result in the death of the infant, the mother or both.

The IMPACT project has seen health centres and/or posts built and/or services improved. Medical staff have been trained, equipment and facilities prepared and motorcycle ambulances at the ready to transport moms-to-be for delivery. Most important, surrounding communities recognize and support the attention now available for expectant mothers and their families.

It’s never an overnight change, but during our visit to the Kelo Health Post we learned an amazing stat: when it opened health attendants delivered about three babies per month. Now, two years later, specially trained midwives deliver approximately 100 babies a month, and the infant mortality rate has dropped dramatically.

The support and enthusiasm we saw, led by TBAs and the men in the community, speaks to how IMPACT has heralded in positive change. It will mean a stronger, healthier future for generations to come.

New friends: (above) Sharon shares a moment with expectant moms at the Dole Health Centre in the Arsi Negelle district