By Wossen Mulatu
Butajira, 2 April 2014: Around fifteen journalists from eleven media houses visited Butajira hospital and health center to witness firsthand the facilities for mothers and new-borns there.
The media visit was organized by the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF to show the commendable services provided by Butajira hospital and health centre ahead of the high level launch of the ‘Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia’ (ESDE) which was made possible with EU’s generous €40.2 million grant.
New mother Aster Kebede’s face is filled with grace holding her new baby girl already named Etenesh Gobeza. After an hour of delivery, she has immediately started breast-feeding her child sitting comfortably on the hospital bed. It took her a day to come to the hospital from the neighboring Mareko woreda (district) with her mother Fichage Arega. Now, both of them are proudly sitting close to each other admiring the newly born child and grandchild in relief.
“I am highly content with the service provided here at the hospital. The staff were really kind to me and I had a smooth delivery. I am also grateful that such service is offered for free.” said Aster.
In Ethiopia the most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction (skilled birth attendance) has remained stagnant for the past two decades with only 29 per cent of mothers accessing this essential care. In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011.
“Both the quality and quantity of services have increased in the hospital due to the commitment and motivation of the hospital management and its staff to prevent any death of mothers and new-borns” said Andualem Mengistu, Manager of the hospital.
According to Andualem, the range of mothers who deliver at the hospital has increased from 10-15 up to 80-90 mothers per week at present. This significant increase is due to the introduction of free service for mothers who deliver at the hospital, increase in the number of midwives on duty programme and early referral system from the Health Center. In addition, the hospital implements Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) and uses volunteers from Voluntary Services Organization (VSO) to fill the staffing and skill gap.
“Giving birth should be a time of happiness and celebration for mothers and not a time of sorrow. And newborns are not predestined to die” said Dr. Asheber Gaym, Health Specialist at UNICEF. “We need to make all our efforts to stop the unnecessary death of mothers and new-born in the country by closely working with the Government and partners” he added.
Ali Abdella, deputy head of the woreda health unit indicates that, their main objective is to create demand so that mothers deliver at a health facility and not at home. The maternal mortality rate in the city used to be 67 deaths per 10,000 in 2010 and now it has gone down to 6 deaths per 10,000 which is a significant achievement.
According to Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.
“We are now aiming at quality service and HDF (Home Delivery Free) community.” he stresses.
Translation of paragraphs from stories by journalists that took part in the media visit are posted here: [With a link to the Amharic story]
Hospitals can solve Maternal health and newborn deaths when they have the necessary equipments and sustainable supply. To equip new and old hospitals with the necessary equipments to sustain the supply, the European Union has donated 40 million Euros through a project implemented by Ministry of Health and UNICEF. All health sectors will benefit from this three year project Read more.
“Many newborn and maternal lives were saved because of this hospital” says Fetiya “The service is for free, so all mothers should come to the hospital and save the life of their children and themselves” Fetiya conveys her message. Read more
UNICEF and Ethiopian Ministry of Health will work together to achieve MDG5, reduce maternal and newborn deaths , by implementing a new 40 million euro project donated by the European Union. Read more
By Demissew Bizuwerk
TERGOL, AKOBO WOREDA (GAMBELLA REGION)- Nyabiel Chamjock, a 20-year-old South Sudanese refugee, waits in line at the vaccination post with her nine-month-old daughter in her arms. She joins a long queue of other mothers with young children who are also waiting at the post to receive vaccinations. The growing queue is evidence of an effective community mobilisation campaign carried out in the last few days. In addition to the vaccination post where Nyabiel is waiting, three more posts have been made operational to cope with demand from the rising influx of South Sudan refugees. To ensure that vaccination posts are adequately stocked with supplies – two UNICEF boats regularly deliver vaccines. Nyabiel is one of the thousands of refugees who crossed into Tergol town in January in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia bordering South Sudan. Sadly, Nyabiel lost her husband during the tribal conflict between the Murle and the Lue Nuer tribes more than a year ago. She has recently had to face more tragedy. The eruption of violence in South Sudan, in December 2013, forced Nyabiel to flee into Ethiopia in search of safe refuge. After trekking most of the day on foot, clutching her child and a few selected belongings, she managed to cross the border.
Mass Vaccination Campaign for Refugees and Host Community
After waiting 30 minutes in the queue, Nyabiel’s daughter finally receives her required vaccines. She receives an injection against measles and drops to prevent her from contracting polio; she also receives vitamin A supplementation. In addition, her mid-upper arm circumference is measured to check her nutrition status. The chubby little infant looks surprisingly healthy despite the difficult conditions that her family is facing. Before Nyabiel leaves the vaccination post she is given a card confirming her daughter’s immunisation. She is also reminded that it is important to keep the card safe for future reference.
Nyabiel understands the importance of vaccinations for her child. “I know that my child will be protected from diseases after taking the vaccines. It is difficult in this area to keep a child healthy. As it gets dry and hot, children easily fall sick,” she said.
The mass vaccination campaign administered to South Sudanese refugees and members of the host community in Tergol, the capital of Akobo Woreda, is supported by UNICEF in coordination with the Regional Health Bureau. The campaign started at the beginning of January 2014 and more than 95 per cent of children have been targeted for immunisation.
UNICEF has prepositioned emergency vaccine supplies in the Gambella Region to ensure a timely response to the acute emergency needs of those fleeing from the violence in South Sudan and also to the vulnerable members of the host community. The mass vaccination campaign is crucial in preventing outbreaks like measles and polio. In the context of population movement across borders – especially in emergency situations – disease outbreaks can easily occur and prevention measures need to be in place to protect vulnerable mothers and children.
“This vaccination campaign is very important for the health of children both from the host community and refugees,” says Getachew Haile, UNICEF health emergency officer. “It protects the children from contagious viral diseases such as measles and polio,” he adds.
In addition to the provision for vaccines against measles and polio, vitamin A supplementation is also given to children aged between six months and five years. Since the Gambella Region is prone to malaria, a distribution of mosquito nets has also helped to reduce the incidence of malaria morbidity and mortality.
The emergency response to South Sudan refugees in Tergol is being coordinated by the Government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR. UNICEF supports the health activities of ARRA and UNHCR in partnership with the Regional Health Bureau. Adequate planning and functional systems have been put in place to manage human resource and logistic arrangements. In addition, health workers from Gambella town and adjacent areas such as Gniengnang, Wantowa and Tergol have received a one-day orientation.
With the support of the local administration, vaccination posts have been set up in locations that are accessible to the host community and refugees. Community mobilisation work has been an integral part of the vaccination campaign to ensure that community members and refugees are aware of the campaign programme and its importance to the health of mothers and children.
Head of the Akobo Woreda health office, Samuel Yien, acknowledges the impact of UNICEF’s support. He says that the emergency vaccination campaign is going well and that the activities are monitored closely. “We are grateful for the support we received from UNICEF. We are coordinating activities together and so far the campaign is good,” he added.
The Akobo Woreda (district) is the most inaccessible area in the Gambella Region. To reach the woreda capital of Tergol, one has to take an eight-hour boat ride from Buribe town- the last town accessible by vehicle. Accessibility problems make the role of UNICEF boats essential in delivering vaccines and other supplies to the vaccination posts.
Thousands of civilians, mainly women and children, have been affected by the violence that broke out in South Sudan in mid-December 2013. At the beginning of April 2014, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimated that more than 88,000 refugees crossed over the Ethiopian border through six entry points including Tergol, since the conflict began. These people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, including food, water and health services. Mothers and their babies are visibly weak after enduring the long trek to Tergol, while some of the children are malnourished. As the influx of refugees increases and puts food supplies under strain, the nutritional status of newly arrived children deteriorates.
Although some of the refugees in Tergol are being accommodated by the host community, there are still many more staying in makeshift shelters close to the Akobo River.
Nyabiel constructed her small makeshift shelter from sticks and rags to offer some protection from the piercing sun. Her new rickety home is shared with her child, her grandmother and a few scattered bags containing her belongings. She hopes better times await her child. She is keen to keep her daughter healthy and despite the challenges she faces – she is determined to send her to school because “an education will help bring her a better future,” she adds.
WHAT: Media visit to health facilities to demonstrate the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF in maternal and new born health- ahead of the high level launch of European Union’s donation of €40 million for Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE) Project.
WHO: Federal Ministry of Health, European Union, UNICEF
WHEN: WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL, from 7:30am- 4:30pm (Day Trip)
WHERE: Butajira Hospital and Butajira Health Center, SNNPR
WHY: According to EDHS 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.
The most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction is skilled birth attendance. However, availability and uptake of this service had remained stagnant until recently.
In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011. Therefore, maternal and neonate health are now the top priorities in everyone’s agenda.
Accordingly, Butajira Hospital and Health Center have been selected as model facilities that give full maternity service and continuum of care including neonatal care and a coordinated referral system for this visit.
This media visit is organized by Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF.
A media pack regarding the sites will be prepared and shared with you . A resource persons will be on board to respond to your queries.
Please confirm your attendance starting from today up to Monday for logistics purpose.
For interviews or additional information, please contact:
Wossen Mulatu, Communication Officer, Media and External Relation Section, UNICEF Ethiopia, Tel: +251 115 184028, Mobile: +251 911 308483, email: wmulatu[at]unicef.org
By Mekiya Feki
The newly established South Nations Nationalities Peoples Regional State data base system, SNNPInfo is launched with the presence of the Bureau of Finance and Economic Development Head Ato Haileberhan Zena Mamo,UNICEF SNNPR Head Joyce Gachiri and many other higher officials. The database can be accessed via the BoFED website, www.snnprsbofed.gov.et/SnnpInfo.
SNNPInfo is based on DevInfo, a database system that harnesses the power of advanced information technology to compile and disseminate data on human development. The system has been endorsed royalty-free by the UN Development Assistance Group (DAG) to assist countries in monitoring achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for deployment on both desktops and the web. DevInfo provides methods to organize, store and display data in a uniform way to facilitate data sharing at the country level across government departments, UN agencies and development partners.
According to the Ethiopia’s RBM strategy, a strong database needs to be developed in order to improve the availability and timely dissemination of comprehensive statistical information to monitor and report the national/regional development efforts, to support policy analysis and decision making of government and development partners. Devinfo also contributes to the current national/regional development plan by supporting national authorities in harmonizing and standardizing collation, dissemination and use of data for planning, monitoring and advocacy.
The United Nations Country Team, with the technical leadership of UNICEF, supported the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) to adopt DevInfo as EthioInfo, the Ethiopian in-country customization in 2006.EthioInfo was envisaged as a tool for strengthening the capacity of counterparts in generating and disseminating data for situation and outcome monitoring of national priorities within the PASDEP (2005-2010) & GTP (2011-2015) and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). EthioInfo is also a tool for enhancing the dissemination and use of statistical information and contributing to knowledge management efforts in Ethiopia.
In the objective of supporting regional governments put in place a common system for electronic data storage, to better manage the monitoring of key socio-economic indicators and support evidence-based development planning and to track progress towards achievement of regional priorities within the framework of National growth and transformation plan and the MDGs, a regionally owned web- based database, SNNPInfo 1.2 is the third regionally devolved Devinfo database customized for SNNP region next to Amhara and Somali. UNICEF is assisting the regions both technically and financially to avail socio economic data on children and women on timely bases for planning, monitoring, evaluation and advocacy.
SNNPInfo provides standard, accessible and timely benchmark data to partners, planners, policy makers, researchers and the general public for monitoring the GTP and other socio-economic indicators of the region. Currently the database contains 3 years (2010-2012 G.C) socio economic core indicators data selected from the regional GTP under 7 sectors; the future plan is to update the database bi-annually. The database supports both standard and user-defined indicators. It includes maps to administrative level for all zones and all woreda level. It also allows regional government and non-government organizations to link the database to all relevant administrative level data to be able to analyze geographic relationships of key indicators.
SNNPInfo provides easy-to-use facilities for querying the database and based on the data retrieved for producing tables, graphs and maps for inclusion in reports and presentations. Furthermore, it helps the user to export/import data to and from different application software’s like Excel, Pdf and other application software programs. SNNPInfo is a powerful advocacy tool. It is expected to contribute to increase awareness on reporting of GTP/ MDG indicators at regional level among a wide range of stakeholders. It also helps facilitate customer service at different levels by providing data on reliable and timely bases.
By Demissew Bizuwerk
TERGOL, AKOBO WOREDA (GAMBELLA REGION), 15 March, 2014- As the searing heat of the afternoon sun begins to ease, a group of women carrying jerry cans and plastic buckets start to descend into a small compound where they have access to clean water from two water points. The small compound is one of two sites where UNICEF has installed two emergency water treatment facilities (EMWAT kits) through its implementing partner, ZOA International, in Tergol town, in the Akobo district of the Gambella region, western Ethiopia.
Tergol is a small town by the Akobo River that marks the border between Ethiopia and South Sudan. Tergol has been under the spotlight since mid-December last year after thousands of South Sudanese asylum seekers crossed over into the town after being displaced by conflict in Africa’s youngest nation.
According to UNHCR, close to 66,000 asylum seekers crossed into Ethiopia by the beginning of March 2014. Akobo has received 34 per cent of this number, which is the second largest arrival rate after Pagak where 33,000 South Sudanese civilians displaced by conflict have entered. These asylum seekers are in a critical situation and need immediate humanitarian assistance including the provision of clean drinking water and sanitation services.
In Tergol, the host community has entirely depended on the Akobo River for its water needs as there has never been a facility to provide safe drinking water. However, this situation has been recently improved. With UNICEF’s support, EMWAT kits have been built and are now supplying clean drinking water to the Tergol community as well as to the thousands of South Sudanese asylum seekers. Water from the nearby river is purified and supplied by the first reservoir built by the emergency kit, the purified water is then transferred into a second reservoir where it is chemically treated before it is reticulated to the water access points. Each EMWAT kit has a capacity for providing 20,000 litres of clean water and the kits can be re-filled every two hours depending on the rate of demand.
Safe water for mothers and children
While the women gather around the water points, they talk to each other as clean water fills their buckets and jerry cans. The women then help one another to balance the vessels on top of their heads.
When it is Nyathak Minyjang’s turn, a 25-year-old mother of four, she places her plastic bucket under the tap and holds the hose down to pour in the clean water. Prior to the response, Nyathak had lived on the South Sudan side of Akobo before coming to Tergol with her four children. Her only previous access to water was a river. She never imagined that she would have access to clean drinking water from a tap. “We used to drink water from a river. My children would regularly get sick and I would get sick too”, she says. “The quality of the water here is very nice.” Nyathak comes to the water point at least three times a day. She fetches water for cooking, bathing and drinking. Most importantly, she applies the lessons she learnt about personal hygiene from community hygiene promoters. She is also keen to keep her children clean.
Nyarout Gazwech, a 21-year-old mother of two boys, is also very happy about the supply of clean water. She came from the South Sudan city of Malakal a month and a half ago, leaving her two brothers and her mother behind when the conflict intensified. During her long trek to Tergol, she and her children had no option but to drink unsafe water. “My children were having diarrhoea after drinking the river water. Here we have clean water and my boys will not get diarrhoea again,” she says.
Comprehensive WASH approach
UNICEF in partnership with UNHCR, the Government Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the Gambella Region Water Bureau, and its implementing partner ZOA supports the provision of safe water to the host community and asylum seekers in Tergol. UNICEF’s response has followed its Water Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) strategy by increasing equitable and sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation services, as well as promoting improved hygiene in Tergol.
“We are providing clean water to the asylum seekers and to the host community. Furthermore, we teach them about safe hygiene practices such as the importance of hand washing and using latrines,” says Nigussie Yisma of ZOA who is coordinating the WASH interventions in Tergol.
Apart from Tergol, UNICEF also supports WASH interventions at the entry point in Pagag and in the Lietchor refugee camp. One EMWAT kit has been installed at the Pagag entry point and is providing clean drinking water to the asylum seekers and the host community. Similarly, five shallow water wells have been drilled in the Lietchor refugee camp to increase access to a sustainable source of clean water for the refugees. Moreover, water purification chemicals and emergency sanitation facilities are being distributed while hygiene promoters continue teaching the community and asylum seekers about safe personal and environmental hygiene practices.
Local capacity building
When the emergency response was launched in January 2014, community hygiene promoters were trained and they taught the community and asylum seekers about the benefits of safe hygiene practices. Furthermore, 40 communal latrines have been built in close proximity to the host community as well as where asylum seekers are staying.
“We have been taught about personal hygiene and the importance of hand washing before cooking and after using the toilet,” says Nyathak “They [hygiene promoters] also told us this can prevent our children from getting diarrhoea.”
In order to keep the facilities running smoothly, local water technicians have been trained on the management and maintenance of the water facilities to safeguard smooth operation. The water technicians are responsible for regularly monitoring the water levels and the quality of the drinking water.
Water purification chemicals and accessories are also readily available to the community.
Clean and safe drinking water is essential for life and is also bringing renewed hope for people like Nyathak and Nyarout after being displaced by the conflict in South Sudan.
This story originally appeared on UN in Ethiopia website
The International Women’s Day event at the Faculty of Business and Economics Campus was organized by the UN Communication Group in collaboration with the Addis Ababa University (AAU) Gender Office and attracted high level female panellists from the arts, business, legal, international organisations and civic engagement actors.
The panel discussion helped young women and men from various faculties of Addis Ababa University to have a chance to interact and dialogue with some of the leading women figures in the country. In addition, the event helped to build youth consciousness towards women’s role in development, social welfare and overall human progress, taking the Ethiopian context into perspective.
Panellists shared their experiences and personal stories of struggles and triumphs to break through barriers to achieve the leadership roles in their area of expertise.
Moderating the discussion, Ms Nahu Senay Girma, Founder and Executive Director of the Association of Women in Business (AWIB) Ethiopia, urged the young youth who attended the discussion to ‘actively participate by asking questions and in general, to always grab opportunities to network’ such as the panel discussion.
Ms. Birtukan Gebregzi, Vice President of Enat Bank outlined gaps existing in access to finance for women in Ethiopia, often disadvantaged by factors such as lack of ownership of property and land. She stated that being the first bank to be set up by women in Ethiopia, there has been an encouraging growth in numbers of women clients, standing at ‘65%’ however, compared to their male counterparts, ‘women often take lower loans and hence the increment in female clients is more of numerical than financial gain nature’.
Advising the young students to ‘follow their passion and have strong self-belief’, Ms Desta Hagos, one of Ethiopia’s first female artists, who is planning her 50th exhibition this month, also urged the students to ‘not be afraid to pursue dreams but in a focused manner’.
The regional and continental perspective of women empowerment were shared by Ms Aster Zaoude, former regional director of UNIFEM for West Africa, and founder of the Tsehaye Zaoude Foundation supporting visually impaired female students at AAU. She urged the students to ‘work together and build solidarity’ to address issues faced by girls and women.
Ms Zenaye Tadesse, Managing Director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association encouraged the students to learn about rights while Ms Chachi Tadesse, performer and activists for street children cautioned the participants against a ‘poverty mentality’ that lets thoughts of scarcity translate to physical barriers.
Ms Engedaye Eshete, Chair of Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association spoke of the opportunities opening up for women entrepreneurs and the linkages across the country that her association was establishing including for the disabled.
Selamawit Adugna, a youth activist and a gender and child protection officer for CHADET, urged the university students not to focus on negative issues and barriers but instead find their passion and look for opportunities. ‘There were days when I was doing a job that wasn’t that exciting and if I hadn’t had passion and vision I would not have gotten out of bed.’
The half day discussion reflected on various issues including the laws and policies enacted in the Ethiopian Constitution to create favourable conditions for women and the challenge remaining when it came to execution; deep rooted traditions and stereotypes that continue to impede progress.
The exciting dialogue between the panellists and the auditorium full of students highlighted building awareness in communities; engaging influential people to spearhead change to address attitude-based setbacks; recognizing that men are important partners in empowering women; and investing in building leadership capacities of women.