The COVID-19 pandemic continues to jeopardize the routine health services provided by Ethiopian healthcare professionals, including midwives. Health workers report that COVID-19 travel restrictions in Ethiopia are forcing pregnant women to give unattended birth at home. Moreover, staff involved in the provision of maternal and SRHR services have been diverted to fulfill other tasks, clinics have been closed, and people are reluctant to visit health facilities. Hence, the need to train midwives in performing their core tasks during these daring circumstances is evident.
Therefore, Health[e]Foundation in collaboration with the Ethiopian Midwives Association and Viamo, initiated a program aiming to provide specific knowledge and skills for continuation of essential maternal, neonatal and SRHR services during health emergencies. The program started on the first of April of this year, initially focusing on curriculum development together with Ethiopian experts and the collaborating universities of Addis Ababa, Debre Birhan, Wolkite and Jimma. This curriculum – the Pandemic[e]Response training program – has been developed as an e-learning course, enabling midwives to study the e-modules anytime and anywhere without being hindered by lockdowns or delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First kick-off workshop at Addis Ababa University
On the 30th of July the first group of 30 third year midwifery students of the Addis Ababa University kicked-off the blended-learning training program. The Ethiopian Midwives Association facilitated the face-2-face workshop while Health[e]Foundation joined virtually via Zoom. During the workshop, the e-learning platform was demonstrated whereafter the students individually started their Pandemic[e]Response training. This e-learning course teaches them how to safely deliver maternal, neonatal and sexual and reproductive health services during a health emergency and how to safely provide maternal care for COVID-19 infected pregnant women, as well as the effects of the pandemic on domestic and gender based violence, gender equality and mental health. The blended-learning program provides both the theory and tools for midwives to transfer acquired knowledge to their clients and communities.
Mobile service for the community
In addition, the trained midwifery students will roll out our newly developed voice mobile phone service in collaboration with Viamo. This service, called the TENA mobile service, will be promoted amongst peers, friends, fellow students and other community members. Via mobile phone, people register to receive 2-minute voice calls every 4 days over a period of 3 months with information on the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to maternal health, gender-equality, domestic and gender-based violence and mental health. This service reinforces and complements the midwives’ messages, taking pressure off their workload, strengthening service delivery and empowering the community with important health information.
In August, midwifery students from the universities of Debre Birhan, Jimma and Wolkite will take part in kick-off workshops to start their training program. From September onwards, kick-off workshops will be organized for in-service midwives who will also start the Pandemic[e]Response blended-learning. We thank Nuffic and Dioraphte for their generous support which enables us to develop and implement this program in Ethiopia.