Maternal Mortality in Ethiopia

In 2011, according to the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey, the maternal mortality rate in Ethiopia was 676/100,000 live births compared to only 12/100,000 live births in Canada. The majority of pregnant women affected are those living in rural areas who do not have access to skilled birth attendants or referral systems for socio-economic, cultural or demographic reasons. In Ethiopia 83.6% of the population live in rural areas and 90% of total national births occur in rural areas. Of these births, only 10% of these births are attended by skilled health personnel.

Table showing percentage of births not attended by skilled provider

One of the reasons for gaps in maternal health service is the lack of skilled personnel.

table showing midwives per population

Of the women giving birth in the rural areas of Ethiopia, 30% do not seek health care due to cultural beliefs and 60% of pregnant women in rural areas do not feel it is necessary to attend a health facility.

table showing reasons why women do not deliver at a health facility

The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) is committed to health sector reforms and recognizes addressing maternal newborn and child health (MNCH) is central to their reform agenda. Various national policies contribute to the welfare of mothers and children, including:

  • Health Sector Development Plans (HSDP) since renewed nationhood in 1991, especially HSDP III (2005/06-2010/11) and HSDP IV
  • Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (specifically includes increasing the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel)
  • National Reproductive Health Policy
  • National Population Policy
  • National Policy on Women
  • National Strategy on Child Survival and
  • Making Pregnancy Safer Initiative

This project will provide a complementary contribution to these policies by focusing on educational and clinical strategies to strengthen front line caregiver skills, develop highly skilled midwifery trainers, develop relevant competencies at a relatively newly designated national referral center - St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC), our operational local partner, and by contributing to strengthening the Ethiopian Midwives Association (EMA) among other relevant organizations in Ethiopia.

The Project will be implemented nationally for the midwifery component and in defined parts of Amhara and Oromiya Regions and Addis Ababa for the referral program. The University of Alberta will work with two Ethiopian partners, St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College and the Federal Ministry of Health.

It will take a whole systems approach to MNCH in Ethiopia, from primary to tertiary levels, from rural communities to urban neighbourhoods, while concentrating on the development of much needed midwifery education and institutional capacity building to assist mothers and children to be healthy prior, during and following birth.

We will lay the foundations for further national education program development and implementation at SPHMMC of essential and highly recommended basic and emergency obstetric and newborn care. Our midwifery training and education programs will contribute to Ethiopia's national strategy of building and accelerating the training of midwives to reach 8635 by 2015. While this type of assistance is being afforded by other organizations, our focus from the community to the national MNCH referral hospital is unique.

Information taken from the Project Implementation Plan 2014