Nurse-midwives are the frontline of obstetric and neonatal care in rural Ethiopia. When trained well, nurse-midwives are able to provide pre- and post-natal care and skilled assistance at the time of delivery, ensuring a healthy outcome for mothers and babies. When no nurse-midwives are present, or those present do not possess the necessary skills, women and neonates suffer and face a greater risk of dying before, during, and after childbirth. In short, well-trained nurse-midwives save lives.
On our last trip to Ethiopia, a woman lost her baby at the Maji District Hospital because the nurse-midwives did not have the skills or equipment needed to resuscitate the infant. While the nurse-midwives were doing their best with the resources they had, they did not have the skills necessary to save that life. Sadly, this happens all too often, especially in rural health clinics where nurse-midwives are scarce and well-trained nurse-midwives are even scarcer.
We need to address this critical problem with additional training and resources to ensure nurse-midwives are equipped to save lives. Furthermore, women who are trained as nurse-midwives have an important skill set that allows them to participate in the workforce and earn an income. This in turn allows them to support their families and contribute a vital role in their communities. They are on the frontline of the maternal healthcare crisis in rural Ethiopia, and they need our support.
Village Health Partnership is working on three initiatives to address the training and staffing of nurse-midwives in rural Ethiopia:
1. Skill Check, Training, and Mentorship Program
During our last trip to Ethiopia, we performed skill checks on nurse-midwives at rural health facilities in the West Omo Zone (WOZ) in the catchment area of the Mizan Tepi University Teaching Hospital (MTUTH). None of the nurse-midwives passed the checks, meaning they did not know how to assist with delivery, stop bleeding, manage birth complications, or resuscitate infants in distress. To address this crucial problem, we are launching a new skill check, training, and mentorship program where master nurse-midwife trainers from MTUTH regularly visit each of the eight rural health facilities in the WOZ four times per year to assess nurse-midwives’ obstetric and neonatal care skills.
This on-the-job training and mentorship allow expert healthcare professionals to assess nurse-midwives’ skills in action, immediately address any gaps in their ability to keep mothers and babies safe during childbirth, and then provide ongoing support. Our goal is that the nurse-midwives participating in the mentorship program can then train their colleagues in these vital skills, creating a more proficient maternal and neonatal healthcare system. For $10,400, we can support this entire program (32 site visits) for one year. For $325, we can support one of the site visits.
2. BEMONC Training
Each year, our partners in Ethiopia identify 20 nurse-midwives who could benefit from a more comprehensive Basic Emergency Maternal Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEMONC) training program. The nurse-midwives chosen for this training are those who would benefit from a three-week intensive, hands-on skill-building program at the MTUTH. When nurse-midwives are trained in these vital skills, they can be more of an asset to their communities and be empowered in their career.
Over the course of this three-week training, nurse-midwives learn vital skills such as how to actively manage the third stage of labor, stop bleeding, deal with hypertension and seizures, treat infection, deal with breech deliveries, identify and refer high-risk pregnant women, and resuscitate neonates in distress. For just over $18,000 or $900 per student, we can support an entire three-week BEMONC training class of 20 nurse-midwives.
3. Nurse-midwife Training Scholarship Program
In an effort to increase the number of trained nurse-midwives and provide economic opportunities to women in rural Ethiopia, we provide scholarships for village women to attend a three-year nurse-midwife training program at either the Aira Hospital School of Nursing or the Mizan Aman Health Science College. The training program enables participants to learn important skills that they can bring back to their community to promote maternal health and bolster their local healthcare system.
The skills that these women learn make them employable and give them an income, which in turn empowers them to lead healthy, productive, and economically stable lives. The impact ripples through families and even whole communities. For $2,500, we can sponsor one village woman with a three-year nurse-midwifery scholarship.
Throughout rural Ethiopia, nurse-midwives face the enormous challenge of being on the frontlines of caring for women and neonates. They stand alone without support. Their ability to manage normal and complicated deliveries and to deal with neonates in distress determines the difference between life and death for mothers and babies. Help us empower nurse midwives with the skills they need to do their job. The more support we can give these brave women, the more we can promote maternal and neonatal health in rural Ethiopia. Will you join us in supporting nurse-midwives?
Here are some examples of how we can use donations to ensure they have the skills and resources they need:
Sponsor one site visit for the Skill Check, Training, and Mentorship Program.
Support one nurse-midwife in a 3-week BEMONC training class.
Sponsor one village woman to become a nurse-midwife with a 3-year scholarship.