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Putting more ambulances on the road in rural Ethiopia

POSTED May 16, 2018

Putting more ambulances on the road in rural Ethiopia

A CCFC project is saving lives by encouraging women to deliver their baby at a health centre with the help of a trained professional 

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

Women Zem Zem son CAIA

Zemzem is lucky. She lives in the Artuma Fursi district, a region of Ethiopia that has ambulance service, thanks to support from Christian Children’s Fund of Canada.

“I would not have been able to make it to the health centre in time to deliver my baby had I not used the ambulance. I was bleeding a lot when my husband called,” recalls Zemzem. “With the help of the midwives and God I delivered a healthy son.”

The story doesn’t always end so happily. Many women in rural Ethiopia have to travel far over uneven, unpaved roads to the nearest health centre. Many don’t have transportation to make that trek.

“Women in (some rural) communities used to rely on being carried by local stretchers, on a donkey cart or even walking far distances to give birth in our health centre,” explains Addissie Yizengaw, a midwife working in the health centre Zemzem delivered. “These women, because they did not receive medical help in time, face life-threatening complications, infection or injury.”

But, there’s renewed hope thanks to funding to Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) from the Government of Canada through the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM).

Ambulance CAIA

We’re training health workers, building maternity wards and providing medicine as well as medical equipment and ambulances — like the one that helped ZemZem.

Health-extension workers, who operate in small communities, are coordinating the ambulances in emergencies. And, they’re building local awareness on safe maternal healthcare by encouraging women to deliver in health facilities with the support of a professional.

It’s working. Before CAIA-MNCM launched in Zemzem’s community, some health workers at local centres did not attend to a single delivery in a month. Today, the facility where Zemzem gave birth attends to an average of 30 women per month. That means more women are having their babies in health centres with professionals, giving mom and infant a better chance to survive and thrive.

Check back for more success stories about CAIA-MNCM, which runs until 2020.

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About Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM):

The Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality is a partnership among four Canadian organizations — Amref Health Africa, Children Believe, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and WaterAid Canada. With support of $24.9 million from the Government of Canada (85 percent of the total project budget), this four-year project (2016 to 2020) aims to directly reach 1.7-million women, children and men across 20 districts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. The partners are working together with African communities to improve the delivery of essential health services to moms, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five; increase the use of these improved health services; and improve the consumption of nutritious foods and supplements.


Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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