In November, I am heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to document midwives and their roll in improving women's reproductive health in rural Ethiopia.
In November I will embark on a trip to Addis Abab, Ethiopia with Salaam Garage, and organization dedicated to social change through citizen journalism to begin a photo documentary examining the role midwives have on women’s health in the rural areas of Ethiopia. For the 29 million women who live in the rural, mountainous areas of Ethiopia, early marriage, sometimes by the age of 14, is widespread. When they become pregnant, poor to no medical care results in serious birth complications. Women customarily deliver their babies at home with only a female elder in attendance. For a woman in obstructed labor, the closest skilled doctor able to provide proper medial attention is often hundreds of miles away.
While having many children is extolled in Ethiopian culture, pregnancy and childbirth are risky endeavors for a woman where the maternal death rate is among the highest in the world. Child mortality, mother morality and obstetric fistulas are commonplace.
An obstetric fistula is an injury that occurs when the baby’s head gets stuck during labor. The constant pressure of the head in the birth canal causes a tear or hole to form either between the bladder and vagina, the rectum and vagina, or both. As a result, the woman is rendered totally incontinent of urine and/or feces. This condition does not heal on it’s own, surgery is the only option.
During my stay, I will be covering the role midwifes have had in communities to deter obstetric fistulas. I will be working closely with the Hamlin Fistula hospital as well as with local NGO (non-governmental organization) Hamlin Fistula International, to gain access to midwives, patients and programs that are having a direct impact on the improvement of women’s reproductive health.
photo credit: Paula Allen via Fistula Foundation www.fistulafoundation.org
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