The Technical Advisory Committee of the Integrated Family Health Program (IFHP) commended the gains achieved by the program in the North Gondar Zone of the Amahara Regional State. It also said that IFHP assumes pivotal role in achieving Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health.
The latest in global sexual and reproductive health news
The health posts and this health center—funded by USAID and through a program with Pathfinder International and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health—make the difference to thousands of Ethiopians.
Focus Area: Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health
These health posts — the one we visited was a shack stocked with a desk and basic medical supplies — are staffed by trained health extension workers. Health extension workers are local community members who have received training in basic medical procedures, and act almost like family doctors. They immunize children. They provide advice on nutrition and sanitation and family planning. They provide treatment for malaria and diarrhea. Often, they’re the only health care available to a community of 5000 or more people.
"Government ownership is critical [for improving reproductive health]," says Dan Pellegrom, President of Pathfinder International, which has worked in the country since 1964." And Ethiopia's government took ownership." That ownership took the form of renewed commitment to women and girls, and creative collaborations with aid agencies to make long-acting contraceptive methods in particular more available. (Injectable contraceptives are by far the most popular method countrywide).
The chain of events began in March, 2001, when a 13-year-old girl named Woinshet Zebene was abducted from her Ethiopian village and raped for two days. After she escaped, bloodied and bruised, the suspect was arrested and then released on bail. That same week, the man abducted Woinshet again, hiding the girl in his brother's house and raping her for 15 days before she escaped and sought refuge with her grandmother.
But in our relentless focus on protecting abortion access in the USA, we are all prone to forget that reproductive justice is a global issue. And while many agencies do great work abroad in promoting family planning and women's health, I want to give a special shoutout this Monday to Pathfinder International.
During a recent visit to the East African nation, [Paul Blumenthal, MD, MPH] learned from a colleague that 60 percent of all referrals to Ethiopia's only cancer center were women with cervical cancer.
"Our objective is to prevent cervical cancer from ever occurring by doing this simple screening, uncovering pre-cancers that could develop into cancers," Blumenthal said. "We're really hoping to make a difference for the women of Ethiopia."