Reducing newborn deaths in Ethiopia
Half of all new mothers in developing countries such as Ethiopia give birth without a skilled health professional present, often at home. This means complications can be catastrophic, with mothers not able to access medical care to save their babies - or themselves.
Providing the right resources
We are working across Ethiopia to equip hospitals with the resources and skills they need to reduce high rates of neonatal and maternal mortality. We're working to support:
- 16 Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs)
- 4 Paediatric High Dependency Units (PHDUs)
- 1 Maternity Waiting Home (MWH)
There are dedicated rooms for babies with infectious diseases like meningitis, and hot rooms to help premature babies keep warm.
In Suhul Hospital, the rate of babies dying in their first 28 days decreased by 40%, in the year after opening the NICU.
The right skills
Just as important as having the right equipment is having the right expertise.
We've provided training and on-the-job mentoring to nurses to ensure these 'model' units are adequately staffed, and are supporting them with data collection and application.
VSO volunteers have played a central role in establishing the units, then reducing their involvement so that locally-trained staff can take over full responsibility.
Not only has the number of babies dying decreased, but there has also been a huge increase in demand and usage of the hospitals.
The number of mothers bringing their babies to be admitted to hospitals has increased by half.
An independent evaluation has found that VSO’s approach to newborn care in Ethiopia is “affordable, well accepted by hospital management and integrated into existing hospital routines, which all help guarantee the project’s sustainability”.
VSO came here, and we got training and the additional facilities. Now we can give them [babies] oxygen and medicine - it’s simpler. Babies would have died before and now they are more likely to survive.
Rahel Beyan, nurse at Suhul hospital
Developing a centre of best practice in Arba Minch General Hospital
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Arba Minch General Hospital is a quiet corner amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital.