Statement by Margaret Schuler, National Director, The 4th Round EVERY ONE Campaign’s Hwassa Race

Saving Newborn and their Mothers’; VIP Dinner, Haile Resort, Hwassa; May11,2013

It is so nice to be here with all of you tonight.  In particular, I am pleased to be back in a Region where I have spent a lot of time over the years.  In particular, I think back to 2003, after I had just returned to Ethiopia from a job in Washington.

At that time, as many of us can recall, there was a devastating emergency situation and the week I got into town I was put in a car and sent down to SNNPR to see the feeding camps in different locations, some I recall: East & West Badawacho and Humbo woredas

We all know how devastating those times were for children and families.

Thankfully, and with great effort, the MoH and its partners have transformed the situation - strengthening the health system, integrating the CMAM program into existing health services and focusing significant resources toward the health sector. Still there is work to be done, but we must applaud a true transformation when we see one - in just 10 years!

World Vision is proud to be a part of these efforts.  Across the country, World Vision operates in over 82 woredas through an integrated programming system knows as an Area Development Program and also in non-ADP areas such as Dolo Ado, Borena and Tongo. WV's focus is on ensuring improved child wellbeing and we are pleased to be a partner with other agencies such as Unicef and Save the Children to work toward common goals. We certainly feel a strong partnership with the MoH and the GoE overall, with our efforts helping to support the broader growth and transformation plan for the country.

In order to do this more effectively, WV has put specific efforts into strengthening its leadership and focusing its work so that we begin our next fiscal year (which begins in October 2013) with a stronger program across the country that can demonstrate significant impact. 

This evening I want to take this opportunity to announce a new direction for World Vision's health focused work.  Through our Child Health Now Campaign and our work in 72 Area Development Programs around the country, WV will begin in October to focus its efforts more systematically and in a way that fully supports the MoH efforts to improve maternal, newborn and child health.  The focus of WV's effort will be on a number of key issues, but one we will highlight in particular and put significant effort and resources into is Skilled Birth Attendance for every woman! This is a key area that still needs attention,  close to 90% of women still deliver at home in Ethiopia and in order to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality rates and increase newborn survival rates, it is an area that needs more focus.

As we know, at least 34% of pregnant women aged 15-49 receive antenatal care from a skilled health provider such as a doctor, nurse or midwife, but only 10% give birth in a facility with a skilled personnel. "Improving Skilled Birth Attendance in Rural Ethiopia" is a national flagship program to change the state of maternal health in the country. It is a program to consolidate and step up efforts to save mothers lives! According to the EDHS 2011 and several other studies, lack of awareness of the importance of skilled institutional deliveries, cultural beliefs and transport challenges in rural areas are causing a high number of deaths during childbirth. WV will work with the MoH at national, regional and woreda levels to increase demand for ANC and skilled birth attendance by addressing socio cultural barriers, transportation and referral linkages. Supporting the identification and follow up of pregnant women by strengthening counseling and referral linkages with health posts and health centers will be a key component. The program will also work with health facilities to strengthen their capacity to deliver services, thereby ensuring a multi-pronged, continuum of care approach.

We believe this is a significant and high impact intervention, aligned to the MoH strategic directions and major national initiatives addressing one of the key challenges Ethiopia is facing. WV wants to see "home delivery free villages" in target woredas where every woman is supported to have a "birth plan" and resources needed to obtain skilled attendance at birth are available.

WV cannot do this alone, but recognizes that it has a significant role to play given its reach and its resource base in country. Tonight I want to announce that WV has committed to focusing its Child Health Now Campaign on this issue and is committing to spend at least $5m per year for the next five years to increase the percentage of women around the country that go for institutional, skilled delivery.  This will be done through innovations and creative initiatives at our ADP levels and nationally to ensure success.  At woreda and village level, we will work with key partners to engage men, the faith community and peer mothers as key players in mobilization and addressing the delays in seeking care. One interesting part of our CHN Campaign that you will be hearing more about is a youth campaign (linked to what we are calling World Vision CUP 2014 in Brazil) - as you know, young people do not want to see their mothers die in child birth, so they are a key constituency.   

We look forward to work in partnership with all of you over the coming months on this key initiative and others as well.  We are all in this together and together we can end preventable deaths!