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Lack Of Awareness, Cultural Beliefs, Transport Challenges Leading To High Number Of Maternal Deaths In Ethiopia, Officials Say

“A lack of awareness of the importance of skilled hospital deliveries in Ethiopia, cultural beliefs, and transport challenges in rural areas are causing a high number of deaths during childbirth,” officials say, according to IRIN. “Only 10 percent of deliveries take place within health facilities, according to Ethiopia’s latest (April) Demographic Health Survey results,” the news service writes, adding, “Nevertheless, the figure is a significant improvement on six percent in the previous 2005 survey.”

“Commenting on the results, Health Minister Kesetebirhan Admasu said …, ‘That [the] majority of women did not appreciate the value of institutional delivery, calls for a concerted effort to educate women and families about the importance of skilled birth attendance and postnatal care,'” IRIN reports. “The Health Ministry is working on behavior change through health extension programs and is providing each of Ethiopia’s 550 districts with an ambulance to facilitate transport for pregnant mothers who want to deliver in health facilities free of charge,” but “some of the hospitals are lacking in equipment, skills or policy guidance to enable them to provide basic emergency obstetric and newborn care, according to a study by the Health Ministry and its partners, who, using 2008 data, found that only 51 percent of hospitals qualified as offering comprehensive care,” the news service notes (4/25).   

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.