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Maternal Health

Help a mother access healthcare ​

Our local partners work on a range of projects dedicated to improving maternal health access and eradicating obstetric fistula – childbirth injuries throughout the country. 


Ethiopia faces significant health challenges impacting mothers and newborns, primarily due to limited access to maternal, newborn, and child health services. The situation is grim, with approximately 13,000 women and 84,000 newborns dying each year because of childbirth-related complications. Contributing factors include: 

  • Inadequate maternal and neonatal services, especially in rural areas. 
  • A dire shortage of midwives. 
  • Inadequate education and training in maternal health care. 
  • A high prevalence of obstetric fistula, with an estimated 9,000 new cases annually


Ethiopiaid is partnering with organizations in Ethiopia to find and treat women living with fistula; improve maternal healthcare; train and rehabilitate fistula survivors; and restore dignity so that these women can live healthy prosperous futures.

Our partners…

  • Identify and arrange free, quality fistual healthcare
  • Train ambassadors for safe motherhood
  • Train new surgeons, nurded, midwives and doctors
  • Extend reach to rural areas to ensure healthcare is received 

Project partners

Our continued collaboration with these partners is vital as we work towards enhancing maternal and neonatal health in Ethiopia. 

HHOJ is dedicated to the elimination of obstetric fistula in Ethiopia, working on two fronts. They focus on the identification, referral, and rehabilitation of women affected by fistula while also endeavoring to dispel the social stigma associated with it. Their Safe Motherhood Ambassador program is pivotal, where healed women become community educators to spot new fistula cases and promote safe childbirth practices. Beyond individual support, HHOJ’s community initiatives include workshops, education of local leaders, and various awareness campaigns to foster supportive environments for women impacted by fistula. 

Established by Dr. Ambaye, a veteran fistula surgeon trained by the renowned Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Hope of Light operates three fistula health centers in Gondar, Jima, and Assella. The organization goes beyond providing medical care, focusing also on training healthcare professionals in fistula surgery and awareness. Furthermore, they offer post-operative counseling to help patients recover holistically. 

SMMMS is a lifeline for isolated communities in the rugged terrains of the Simien Mountains, delivering vital medical and healthcare services. With an array of health centers and outreach workers, they provide comprehensive reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child healthcare, along with emergency services and medical transport. Amidst the challenges of the recent pandemic and local conflicts, SMMMS has been a steadfast provider of critical emergency medical care. 

Nurse Getu Tsegaye providing information to community

Reaching the most isolated fistula patients in Ethiopia

The journey to eradicating fistula in the most rural areas of Ethiopia is extremely challenging. Our partners, The Simien Mountain Mobile Medical Service (SMMMS) are working to reach out to isolated communities in the Simien Mountains to provide maternal healthcare.

In the Simien Mountains, the main form of transport is either by foot or by mule, and 89% of women give birth at home, increasing the risk of neonatal fatalities and obstetric fistula. In fact, the area has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Before SMMMS was founded in 2011, antenatal and postnatal care was almost unheard of, contributing to high infant mortality rates as babies contracted hypothermia, tetanus and infectious diseases. There was a small network of government-run health centres, but these were a 2 day hike for some Simiens and even the smallest transport fee proved too expensive for many families.

SMMMS started deploying mobile medical teams, consisting of an Ethiopian nurse with medical supplies, a mule to carry them and a man to guide the mule. They also started building, equipping and staffing a clinic in Keyit to support the local community there. They also employ local mule men to help transport these women their nearest health centre by utilizing mules.

SMMMS now has 14 midwives, who have all graduated and are working at several different health centres in the Simiens, along with their at own health clinic. Because of their dedication, the number of Simien women visiting health centres has increased every year.

One such midwife is Eden, who graduated with honours in 2016. Eden demonstrated the qualities SMMMS needed and was offered the position of Women’s Healthcare Co-ordinator to work with local health centres and improve availability to healthcare services for Simien women. She now works with SMMMS’ project director, Hawlt, to improve all care offered at health centres and the nearest hospitals, including the University of Gondar Hospital.

SMMMS also employs five mobile nurses who travel between mountain villages providing antenatal and postnatal care in areas inaccessible by other means as well as general medical care, health education and immunisations. They also run a small clinic providing delivery services for expectant mothers along with inpatient and outpatient care. 

The impact you can have


expectant mothers who received care from trained midwives.


people were reached through Safe Motherhood Ambassadors.


pregnant women registered for healthcare services.


women provided with free surgical care for fistula or pelvic floor disorders.

For an Ethiopia free from fistula.

Our aim. To increase access to and awareness of maternal health in order to make childbirth safer and eliminate fistula in Ethiopia.

“Now I am healed and so happy. I will educate my community about obstetric fistula.” When 32-year-old Aberash went into labour, there was no doctor nearby so she had to give birth at home. After three agonising days, she lost her baby and developed fistula. “I was hiding myself. I was not drinking enough water for fear of urine leakage. My neighbours isolated me. I became hopeless.” Aberash lived in misery for 15 months. It was thanks to a travelling Safe Motherhood Ambassador that she not only learnt her condition could be cured and was assisted in getting life-changing fistula surgery, but had the chance to train as a Safe Motherhood Ambassador. Today Aberash is committed to finding and helping other women suffering from fistula. Through her, you're creating a ripple effect of change in the fight against fistula.

Other areas of work