• 50% of mums saved in Ethiopia

    Posted by John

    2 February, 2012

    [Australian Aid] "will increase the number of trained midwives from 2002 to 8635, and increase the number of deliveries attended by skilled birth attendants from 18 to 62 per cent.” - Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Kevin Rudd MP, 26 January 2012.

    You could feel the buzz of excitement in the Micah Challenge Australia office last year when the Government’s response to the aid review boldly proclaimed that “saving the lives of poor women and children through greater access to quality maternal and child health services” would be a key development objective. This statement was coupled with positive rumblings from Mr Rudd’s office and from the halls of AusAID about the priority of health spending, which came partly in response to our calls for 20% of all aid dollars to be directed to this vital area.

    But the buzz of excitement was coupled with frustration. In the process of analysing the aid budget, it became clear that the rhetoric about health being a growing priority didn’t seem to match the reality. Far from seeing a rapid increase in spending on health in a growing aid budget, we actually found that current commitments would lead to a decreasing proportion of money being spent on health.

    We’ve been trying to get an adequate answer as to why the rhetoric and the reality don’t match up ever since. We’re still working on that one!

    Kevin Rudd & Ethiopian Health Minister Dr Tewodros Adhanom discuss health in Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of AusAID)Kevin Rudd & Ethiopian Health Minister Dr Tewodros Adhanom discuss health in Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of AusAID)Kevin Rudd & Ethiopian Health Minister Dr Tewodros Adhanom discuss health in Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of AusAID)Some of our frustrations subsided, and some excitement returned on Australia Day, when Foreign Minister Rudd and Ethiopian Minister for Health, Dr Tedros Adhanom, announced a new bilateral agreement where Australia will contribute $43 million over four years to strengthen national health programs in Ethiopia.
    This is very good news for mothers and kids in Ethiopia. It is also good news for so many Micah Challenge supporters who have been asking for more action in this area for many years.

    AusAID has funded the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia since 1984, but this new investment of funds will help to increase the number of trained midwives from 2002 to 8635, and increase the number of deliveries attended by skilled birth attendants from 18 to 62 per cent. This, in turn, will help to more than halve the mortality rate of mothers dying in childbirth (from 590 to 267 deaths per 100,000 live births), and almost halve the rate of infant deaths (from 59 to 31 per 1000 live births).

    At the beginning of a new year of campaigning, it’s great to be reminded about the way our voices can make a real difference.

    ______________________

    John Beckett (known to most of us as JB) is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia. JB desires to see more and more Christians taking on justice, mercy and humility as a way of life and speaking, praying and acting for and with the global poor.