Maternal Health in Ethiopia
For an African woman the lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 16. For a woman in the U.S. the lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy and childbirth is just 1 in 2800.
The most recent Ministry of Health indicators portray the abysmal plight of women in Ethiopia. In a population of 77 million people there are 17,686,000 women aged between 15-49 years, of childbearing age. They are served by just 163 obstetrician/gynecologists, of which only 64 work in government institutions. This is a ratio of 1:276,343 compared with a ratio of 1:3,740 in the USA. Coverage across the country is uneven with most working in Addis Ababa and none in Afar, Gambella or Benshangoul-Gumuz regions.
Midwife numbers are a little better. There are 1,509 in total of which 1,312 work in government institutions. 1,312 midwives for a population of 17,686,000 women aged between 15-49 years gives a ratio of 1:13,480 compared to the WHO recommendation of 1:5,000.
For an African woman the lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 16.
There are 131 hospitals in Ethiopia so on average there are 135,007 women of reproductive age per hospital. Sadly most of the hospitals are in cities and far from the rural population. If the 600 Health Centers are included, there would be 24,194 women per center. If we were to add all the other government basic care centers there are 6,604 people or 2,678 women of reproductive age to each health facility of any type. Our fistula patients report that, on average, the nearest health facility is two days walk away from their homes. Only 41.5% of pregnant women attend any form of ante-natal care and only 12.4% receive any form of childbirth attendance from a skilled attendant. This too is uneven with only 1% of the poorest women giving birth with a trained birth attendant.