For many pregnant women in Ethiopia, health centres provide safety and comfort during what is a potentially life-threatening experience. This is certainly the case for Yenu, an expectant mother in rural south-east Ethiopia. Yenu was six months pregnant with her second child when she visited her local health centre in February 2020. This wasn’t her first visit—while pregnant with her first child, the midwives identified that she had a medical complication and referred her to the hospital for labour, thereby bypassing a future emergency.
To get to the centre, which is stationed the next village over, Yenu travels on foot. For many women in her community, a visit is well worth the trek. Yenu first heard of the centre at a health outpost, where local pregnant women gather to exchange advice and conversation, and learn from expert midwives. Community outreach work conducted by local midwives has instilled the importance of professional pre- and postnatal care.
In her February visit, Yenu shared that she now felt more comfortable having been able to check her baby’s condition. She was happy to have received two ultrasounds and could experience the joy of listening to her baby via the fetal doppler provided by the GreenLamp-donated Solar Suitcase. The health centre gives her peace of mind, she says, as she gets access to immunisations, iron and antibiotics if needed. These services are provided by the government for free for pregnant women, as well as for mothers up to 144 days after giving birth—an extra incentive for mothers to get the professional care they need.
The head midwife at the centre, a local who returned home after earning her degree at the Hamlin College of Midwives, is trusted by her clients. She speaks the native dialect and feels familiar to the local women —for expectant mothers like Yenu, who are sharing such an intimate experience, this makes a world of a difference.
Provided she does not suffer complications in her pregnancy, Yenu hopes to deliver her second child at this health centre.
Alexia Sverdrup, GreenLamp Guest Writer