So how do communities with limited electricity and running water in Ethiopia reduce infant mortality and dramatically improve newborn and maternal health?
With a system designed by Ethiopians for Ethiopia, and a lot of amazingly dedicated health extension workers and volunteers. (The tier system is explained in the first picture.) I’m obviously no expert, but from what I could tell the nonprofit funding worked precisely because it was helping people execute their vision, rather than trying to impose a strategy upon them.
Today, I visited a health center and then a health outpost, a small structure with no electricity serving a community of around 5,000. The Outpost (picture two) was staffed by two women who can do everything from treat malaria to deliver babies. They have a detailed and systematic approach (those files in picture three contain information about every family in their area), but they rely on the volunteer Women’s Health Care Army to provide education, prenatal care, and family planning assistance, among many other things, to every family in the area.
It was fascinating to start my journey at a facility that can do Caesarean sections and then follow the health care system into individual residences, where a woman can talk directly to someone she trusts about prenatal vitamins, contraception, and breastfeeding.
The health challenges here in Ethiopia are massive, obviously, but these volunteers are a big part of the reason that Ethiopia’s infant and maternal mortality rates are dropping so dramatically.
You’ll meet several of them in a forthcoming video, but I just wanted to share the amazingness of today’s experience.