By Demissew Bizuwerk
ADDIS ABABA, 17 April 2014– close to 2 million mothers and new-borns in Ethiopia are to benefit from improved maternal health and new-born care services. Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE), a joint initiative between the European Union, Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF, aims to increase access to and utilisation of quality maternal and new-born health services. ESDE is a 1.1 billion birr (€40 million) project financed by the European Union for a three-year period, from 2014 to 2016. Of this grant, €20 million is allocated to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pool fund of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the remaining half to UNICEF.
This maternal health initiative represents one of the largest grants to maternal health ever provided to Ethiopia. ESDE will be implemented jointly by the Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF, with the support of other development partners and health professional societies working in the area of maternal and new-born health.
ESDE comes at a time when Ethiopia is working hard to achieve the MDG target 5 of reducing maternal mortality, which is not yet on track. Currently, Maternal Mortality Ration (MMR) stands at 676 per 100,000 live births while Ethiopia hopes to bring down the level to 267 per 100,000 live births before the MDG deadline. ESDE project is expected to benefit 625,000 mothers and new-borns annually from improved access to maternal and new-born health services – a quarter of annual national deliveries.
Why maternal health matters in Ethiopia?
- Only 29.5 per cent women delivered in Health Facilities.
- MMR is 676 per 100,000 live births, while the expected MDG 5 target is to bring the level below 267 per 100,000 live births by 2015.
- In Ethiopia, up to 15 per cent of mothers and new-borns suffer serious complications that warrant referral to facilities providing Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (CEmONC) services including caesarean sections, blood transfusions and emergency laparotomy. However, the availability of CEmONC has been limited to only over a hundred hospitals having the capacity to provide the service in the country.
What are the Government plans?
- The government sets ambitious targets for 2015 MDG deadline including availability of Basic and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC and CEmONC) at 100 per cent of hospitals and health centres in the country.
- Increase skilled birth attendance rate to 62 per cent of total deliveries and universal access of mothers and neonates for antenatal and postnatal care.
- The construction of over 800 new primary hospitals [one primary hospital per woreda (district)]. The construction of over 200 hospitals has already been initiated in the various regional states and is expected to be completed soon.
- The hospitals need to be equipped with basic supplies and equipment to provide maternal and neonatal care including equipment for basic operation facilities and essential neonatal care equipment.
ESDE project will provide:
- Obstetric and new-born care supplies and equipment for 500 health centres and 50 hospitals.
- Operation theatre equipment for 30 primary hospitals.
- Training for 5000 health extension workers in community based new-born sepsis management.
- Obstetric and new-born care training for 250 doctors and health officers from 100 hospitals.
- Emergency obstetric and new-born care training and supportive supervision for 1000 midwives and nurses.
 EFY2006 report of the Federal Ministry of Health
 Ethiopia DHS 2011
National EmONC Assessment Report, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF HEALTH, 2008
Health Sector Development Program IV, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF HEALTH (HSDP IV), 2010