Pandemic[e]­Response in Ethiopia

Strengthening maternal and neonatal health during a global health emergency

Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized routine health services provided by Ethiopian midwives. Midwives have been struggling with the consequences of COVID-19 while ensuring safe deliveries. Staff who provide sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) services have been redeployed to fulfill other tasks. Hence, there is an urgent need to train midwives so that they can perform their core tasks during the pandemic. Health[e]Foundation, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Midwives Association and Viamo, initiated a program to provide specific knowledge and skills to enable the continuation of essential maternal, neonatal, and SRHR services during health emergencies.

Program aim

The Pandemic[e]Response program started on 1st April 2021 with the aim of strengthening maternal and neonatal health in Ethiopia during a global health emergency. Pre- and in-service midwives worked on a blended learning training program to help them understand the pandemic and how to safely continue the  provision of maternal, neonatal, and SRHR services. In addition, the community was empowered via a mobile voice / text service that provided information on the pandemic in relation to maternal health and the increased risk of domestic and gender-based violence (GBV) during a stressful period e.g., lockdown.

Blended learning on the COVID-19 pandemic for Ethiopian midwives

Midwifery students and practicing midwives have received training to strengthen their capacity to safely continue maternal, neonatal, and SRHR services during a health emergency and to provide maternal care for COVID-19 infected pregnant women in a safe way. Additionally, their knowledge and skills about promoting women’s rights and gender equality were enhanced via modules that covered the effects of the pandemic on domestic and gender-based violence (GBV), gender equality, and mental health. Blended learning, consisting of on-site workshops and e-learning, has increased the ability of midwives to continue performing their core tasks safely; promote the importance of SRHR and maternal health services during a pandemic; and monitor, as well as responding to, the increased incidence of domestic and gender-based violence, as well as mental health problems. The Pandemic[e]Response program provides the theoretical basis and tools for midwives to transfer their acquired knowledge to their clients and communities.

Empowering the community with the TENA mobile health service

A mobile service for clients of midwives and community members has been developed in collaboration with Viamo. Clients of in-service midwives, as well as peers, friends, fellow students, and other community members of pre-service midwives, have been enrolled into this service via their mobile phones. They receive voice calls, free of charge, over the course of three months with additional information and reminders about the prevention and treatment of COVID-19; maternal and neonatal health during the pandemic; accessing SRHR services during the pandemic; and what to do if they experience domestic or gender-based violence and/or mental health problems. The TENA (Health in Amharic) service reinforces and complements the midwives’ messages and takes pressure off their workload, thus strengthening service delivery and empowering clients with knowledge.

Empowering the community with the LUCY mobile health service

In conjunction with the Pandemic Response program, we have resumed our specialized course on maternal and child health, Female&Family[e]Education, for Ethiopian midwives and midwifery students. The successful LUCY voice/text service for pregnant women and mothers of newborns, which attracted more than 10,000 users over the past years, has been launched in Ethiopia as a smartphone app LUCY reaches out to more women in a sustainable manner.

Key results

Universities / institutions
4 Ethiopian HE / TVET institutions strengthened

Midwives
350 Ethiopian midwifery professionals and students trained with blended learning

Community members
2,500 community members reached with essential health information during the pandemic

Partners

Ethiopian Midwives Association (EMwA) is the only professional association representing midwives in Ethiopia. EMwA works to enhance the quality of midwifery education and care in all regions of Ethiopia. Their primary goals are to contribute to the reduction of maternal and child morbidity and mortality; and improve youth sexual and reproductive health. EMwA is linked to Ethiopian universities and teaching hospitals, as well as Health[e]Foundation.

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