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Improving the quality of medical care for mothers and children in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region in Ethiopia

The health centre in Wassera is located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region in the Kembata Tembaro Zone, Doyogena District. The centre is run by the Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ, in cooperation with the Vicariate of the Roman Catholic Church in Hosaena. The Vicariate is responsible for the administrative sphere of the mission’s activities. The health centre in Wassera, on the other hand, oversees the activity of four smaller field branches in localities adjacent to Wassera (Hawora, Bagadamo, Utughe, Murasa).

The branch centres offer basic consultations by Health Extension Workers (HEWs) who are from the local communities. The HEWs inform the local residents about hygiene matters and the services offered by the health centre in Wassera. In September 2015, a foundation volunteer carried out an on-site inspection of the health centre in Wassera. She checked the centre’s equipment and its capacity to treat mothers and children and also interviewed the staff who provide daily services for the local community.

Improving the quality of medical care for mothers and children in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region in Ethiopia

The general aim of the project was to improve the quality of health care of mothers and children within the area serviced by the Wassera health centre and its four field branches, by retrofitting the health centre and training the medical personnel. Medical equipment was purchased for the laboratory and delivery room, as well as an ambulance to transport women about to give birth and whose life or health is threatened.

Two groups of beneficiaries were distinguished in the project: the first group consisted of mothers and children from areas serviced by the Wassera centre (final institutional beneficiaries). The selection of mothers and children from the area serviced by the centre as final beneficiaries was dictated by difficult access to health care (the areas surrounding Wassera are among the poorest regions of Ethiopia). Many expectant mothers have no access to basic laboratory blood tests (morphology, biochemistry) or urine analysis, which may have an adverse effect on their health and the health of their children.

Improving the quality of medical care for mothers and children in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region in Ethiopia

The health centre in Wassera was supplied with apparatus for blood morphology testing, hormonal analysis, biochemistry, urine analysis, a mobile ultrasound machine, CTG devices, delivery beds, oxygen concentrators, oximeters, privacy curtains as well as a pressure gauge, scale, and thermometer. In addition, a special ambulance was purchased to transport women and children. Seven people (three employees of the Wassera centre and four from the field branches) completed training in how to operate the medical equipment and the ambulance.

An important element of the project was the purchase and installation of UPS devices for the laboratory equipment and incubator. This measure protects apparatus against sudden power spikes or dips – a frequent occurrence in Ethiopia. In the event of a power interruption, the medical equipment can continue running.

Thanks to the above actions, the centre in Wassera is prepared with appropriate equipment to handle complicated deliveries and can seek government funds for additional financing of its activity. It is worth pointing out that all of the planned results have been achieved despite the difficulties encountered during the project’s implementation (a delay in the delivery of the ambulance, limited internet and telephone access in Ethiopia, the necessity to personally check the operation of medical equipment).