Ethiopia on International Women's Day

Group of women in Ethiopia
In 2005, unsafe abortions contributed to a third of all maternal mortalities in Ethiopia. Now, Marie Stopes International in Ethiopia (MSI Ethiopia) is working to ensure no woman’s life is lost unnecessarily.

Although abortion services are legal in Ethiopia, you don’t have to go far to hear a tragic story. In Lalibela, Hailu Birhanu, a private clinic owner, tells us about a local woman:  “Her boyfriend deserted her as soon as she told him she was pregnant. Desperate to get him back, she visited an unsafe abortion provider. 
“But the pregnancy was already in its second trimester and the provider couldn’t stop her bleeding. The woman was rushed to the town’s health centre, but it was too late. She died soon after she arrived.” 

With cases like this common across Ethiopia, MSI Ethiopia knew they had to do something beyond the provision of family planning services to ensure legal abortion services are safe. So they are training people in private clinics across the country – not just in providing access to safe abortions, but in helping women who need professional help after receiving dangerous or incomplete abortions elsewhere. The team are also working to ensure that all clients have access to counselling and receive family planning to prevent further unplanned pregnancies. 

Since the scheme began, MSI Ethiopia has trained more than 200 private providers, who have reached thousands of clients. There’s still a long way to go before every abortion in Ethiopia is safe. But, thanks to MSI Ethiopia’s training, the country’s women now have a far greater chance of survival. 

New Marie Stopes International centre opens in Adigrat, Ethiopia 
On February 26th 2011, officials gathered at the opening of MSI Ethiopia’s newest clinic. 

Situated about 30KM away from the Eritrean border and close to a military camp, the new centre will provide local people with sexual and reproductive health care – care they would otherwise have gone without. 

Before the launch, MSI Ethiopia staff contacted local youth groups and women’s associations. By making sure these groups know about the centre and all the services it offers, MSI Ethiopia hopes they will play a crucial role in referring people and making sure no one goes without the care or advice they need. 

Reaching Ethiopia’s women 
On the eve of World Aids Day, Marie Stopes International in Ethiopia sponsored a networking event for women’s associations in the sub-cities of Addis Abba. 
Over 300 women from positions of power came along. By forming strong links with these women and their associations, MSI Ethiopia hopes it will be easier to reach local communities in the future.

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