Aynalem, Heath Extension Worker in Rural Ethiopia
With 94% of Ethiopian women giving birth at home, we continue to educate and train frontline providers like midwives, health workers, traditional birth attendants – even the mothers themselves – on the life saving effects of misoprostol tablets. By training those working at the village level, we are helping to ensure that mothers have the chance to survive childbirth, an often frightening experience when medical care and medicine is scarce.
Meet Aynalem (pictured) who is a health extension worker deployed to rural communities by the government to provide primary health care. Aynalem is one of the many health extension workers (HEWs) trained by VSI on the use and benefits of misoprostol. At the mere age of 24, Aynalem has already assisted in over 80 home deliveries, all made safer with misoprostol tablets.
Prior to this project, health workers faced many challenges in home deliveries due to minimal supplies and training. Now they are equipped with a simple-to-use tablet and the knowledge on how to use it for the management of postpartum hemorrhage, the leading killer amongst women. Sometimes with no more than a 10th-grade education themselves, health extension workers not only educate women at rural health posts about the use of misoprostol and a host of other important preventative health measures, but they also travel from home to home providing misoprostol tablets to delivering mothers. These young women provide critical care and services where there otherwise would be none.
Since June 2010, we have trained over 1100 health extension workers, including many in new regions of the country like Somali, Afar, and B. Gamuz in our program to prevent bleeding after delivery. By integrating training on misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage into regular trainings and curricula, we are contributing to a sustainable improvement in knowledge about a life-saving drug among the men and women who serve families across Ethiopia.
We are excited about our progress in equipping frontline workers with misoprostol, and deeply appreciate the support we receive from donors committed to reducing unnecessary maternal deaths.