Support Women’s Maternal Health in Ethiopia Through Cuso International

DISCLAIMER: This post is written in partnership with Cuso International to raise awareness about the topic of women’s maternal health overseas. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. 

Support Women’s Maternal Health in Ethiopia Through Cuso International

Being a mom is stressful at the best of times. Those of us who have earned our title also know that becoming a mother – those incredible moments that occur leading up to and during childbirth – can be the most memorable and the most precious times of our lives.

Now – those of us who have had the fortune of growing up in a place where childbirth is not fraught with fear, danger or health concerns, should give a thought to those who endure circumstances that include all of these factors when childbirth is imminent.

Take, for example, Ethiopia. Located in the North East of the African continent, it has been steadily improving access to health care for women and children. And while this news is positive, it does not change the fact that currently, more than 80 per cent of women in the country give birth without a skilled health worker.

Think about what this means. For women in Ethiopia, childbirth – with all of its inherent beauty but also its inherent risk – can be a serious, if not tragic event. Complications that may occur before, during or after giving birth can result in serious and sometimes fatal occurrences, with mothers losing their lives, or both mother and baby becoming victims of serious injuries or illness.

Some statistics regarding healthcare in Ethiopia highlights the urgent need for healthcare support. Current figures show the following:

In Ethiopia
• One doctor for 26,943 people
• One nurse or midwife for 4,237 people
• Maternal mortality rate: 482 out of every 100,000 mothers
• Under-five mortality rate: 59 out of every 1,000 births

While the country is on a path to improving its access to healthcare for women and children, it still has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Africa. This is due to the very real fact that there’s a shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives who would be able to support and assist the mothers and babies who are in need. As it stands right now, the mere ability by those who require healthcare to travel to a health facility is extremely limited. Mothers or mothers-to-be who need care often live in rural and remote areas, making the trek to health facilities difficult, if not impossible.

Oftentimes, if a woman in need does make it to a hospital or facility, healthcare workers at these locales don’t always have the supplies or skills to provide high quality and compassionate care.

Making a Difference

Jennica Rawstron, a midwife from B.C., wanted to make a difference in the lives of women who needed care. She volunteered with Cuso International as a midwife supervisor in Ethiopia and was able to work alongside local midwives to help expectant mothers through difficult deliveries and health crises.

“I come from a family where volunteerism was always important,” she says. “Although my interests have changed over the years, my desire to give back and contribute my time in a meaningful way has stayed constant. When I began midwifery school, I knew I wanted to one day volunteer in this capacity in a low resource setting.” By volunteering with Cuso International, Jennica was able to make her desire to give back a reality.

“I think Cuso International is unique in a couple of ways,” she continues. “One, Cuso is primarily focused on building capacity of local partner organizations. It is not about doing the manual work, but about teaching and aiming for sustainable change.”

“Secondly, I think this kind of change can only be possible through long term placements. In general, Cuso International placements last a minimum of six months in order to build relationships and trust between the volunteer and partner organization.”

Dr. Bruce D’Souza attends to a mom and child in Tanzinia

Dr. Bruce D’Souza agrees. The physician is also a supporter of Cuso International, and volunteered in Tanzania, providing medical care and support to those in need.
“After seeing the long lines of parents waiting patiently with their sick children, I can assure you that Cuso International’s volunteers are making a difference in hospitals,” he says. “I always wanted to work in a developing country, and I am so grateful to Cuso International and its committed supporters for helping to make that possible.”

Support the Cuso CAN Fund and help save the lives of moms and babies around the world. By supporting the Cuso CAN Fund, your monthly gifts will be matched ten times, providing even more women and children with life-saving health care.
The Cuso CAN Fund was established to give you the chance to support Cuso International’s high priority maternal and child health projects in Ethiopia, Benin, Tanzania, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A Quick Overview of Who Cuso International Reaches

• 8,750 women and newborns
• 3,130 health workers
• 390 government health staff
• 140 staff of civil society organizations

When you support the health of moms and babies, your gifts will have a ripple effect within families and communities. Healthy mothers can take better care of their children, and they can work to lift their families out of poverty. Healthy children can go to school, realize their potential, and build the future of their communities and countries.

VIDEO: There’s only so much a mother can do

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