A traditional midwife trained to provide misoprostol through our project recounted a story that is all too common in rural Ethiopia. She identified excessive blood loss in a woman who had just delivered her baby, but the woman’s family did not have money to send her to the hospital for additional care. By the time community members assembled enough money to transport her, it was too late. “If the solution [misoprostol] is at hand, we will work closely with health extension workers to save the lives of mothers,” the traditional midwife said.
Venture Strategies is successfully making misoprostol an essential component of safe childbirth for the millions of women who stand to benefit from access to the simple, low-cost tablet in Ethiopia. We are supporting the nurse-midwives association in training village-level health workers in the proper use of misoprostol to prevent excessive bleeding, or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), in home births, since nearly 94% of mothers deliver at home in Ethiopia. In June 2009, our project trained 250 of a planned 600 traditional midwives as well as 100 health extension workers, government-sponsored primary care providers.
This project is unique as it establishes linkages between Ethiopia’s government health providers and village-level traditional midwives by training both on misoprostol and how to work together more effectively to reach women and provide safe deliveries.
Our efforts to make these life-saving tablets available in communities are met by enthusiasm from health professionals at the higher levels who recognize the role of misoprostol in safe childbirth. By empowering traditional midwives and health extension workers in villages with the skills to properly use misoprostol for PPH prevention, we are contributing to a reduction in the number of mothers who must be referred to the already overburdened health facilities and therefore, the number of mothers who risk dying from a delay in receiving care.
We are encouraged by our progress towards reducing maternal deaths in Ethiopia and appreciate the support we receive from generous donors.