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 women and child

Putting more ambulances on the road in rural Ethiopia

A CCFC project is saving lives by encouraging women to deliver their baby at a health centre with the help of a trained professional

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

Zemzem is lucky. She lives in the Artuma Fursi district, a region of Ethiopia that has ambulance service, thanks to support from Christian Children’s Fund of Canada.

“I would not have been able to make it to the health centre in time to deliver my baby had I not used the ambulance. I was bleeding a lot when my husband called,” recalls Zemzem. “With the help of the midwives and God I delivered a healthy son.”

The story doesn’t always end so happily. Many women in rural Ethiopia have to travel far over uneven, unpaved roads to the nearest health centre. Many don’t have transportation to make that trek.

“Women in (some rural) communities used to rely on being carried by local stretchers, on a donkey cart or even walking far distances to give birth in our health centre,” explains Addissie Yizengaw, a midwife working in the health centre Zemzem delivered. “These women, because they did not receive medical help in time, face life-threatening complications, infection or injury.”

But, there’s renewed hope thanks to funding to Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) from the Government of Canada through the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM).

We’re training health workers, building maternity wards and providing medicine as well as medical equipment and ambulances — like the one that helped ZemZem.

Health-extension workers, who operate in small communities, are coordinating the ambulances in emergencies. And, they’re building local awareness on safe maternal healthcare by encouraging women to deliver in health facilities with the support of a professional.

It’s working. Before CAIA-MNCM launched in Zemzem’s community, some health workers at local centres did not attend to a single delivery in a month. Today, the facility where Zemzem gave birth attends to an average of 30 women per month. That means more women are having their babies in health centres with professionals, giving mom and infant a better chance to survive and thrive.

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

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More about the project:

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.

More 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.