Last week, Elizabeth, Adino, and I had the pleasure of visiting one of SCOPE’s sites – Aymba Health Center. We took local minibus transport to Aymba village center, which is located about 40km outside of Gondar. We then walked across the river to the Aymba health center. Many children were bathing, swimming, and playing in the river water; it looked like a very ideal backyard!
SCOPE has implemented the Beruh Tesfa program at Aymba health center for the past ~1.5 years. To provide some context, the Beruh Tesfa program pairs Ethiopian Orthodox priests with members of the Health Development Army. These pairs are educated about the importance of prenatal care and supports them in conducting outreach to pregnant women, encouraging these women to access available antenatal care (ANC) and to deliver in the health facility. The Beruh Tesfa program has shown a significant increase in the number of women accessing antenatal care. Given this success, SCOPE would like to expand the program to rural health centers and assess its efficacy in rural settings. This expansion project will be implemented in a randomized control trial, so that we can accurately assess its impact on the community. This project is called FLAME (Faith Leaders Advocating for Maternal Empowerment) and is the primary focus of our fellowship. While Elizabeth and I will not be in Ethiopia for the implementation of the FLAME randomized control trial, we are currently assisting with baseline data collection, which will be used to inform the design and implementation of the program. I hope this provides you with some context and helps you understand the nature and importance of our work as SCOPE fellows.
During our visit to Aymba, we had the pleasure of meeting with and interviewing a member of the HDA and a woman who benefited from SCOPE’s community outreach. Both women were incredibly communicative and approachable, willing to answer any questions we had for them. It was inspiring to hear their stories and how SCOPE’s Beruh Tesfa program has impacted their lives. The women are pictured below with brief descriptions of their background and interview comments.
Gebeyanesh is currently a member of the HDA and has been working in the Aymba community since 1994. She has been a member of the HDA for the past 12 years, providing health services and assisting health campaigns. Her favorite thing about being a member of the HDA is supporting pregnant women and ensuring they receive the support they need. When asked why women do not go to the health center during pregnancy, she said that the primary reason is cultural beliefs. However, thanks to SCOPE’s advocacy efforts, more women in Aymba are willing to visit the health center now.
Gebeyanesh is very grateful for SCOPE’s support and program activities. She says her community has suffered from maternal deaths for many years leaving children without a mother, including her aunt who died 4 days after giving birth. She hopes the SCOPE program continues and expands.
Tigist is a mother who benefited from SCOPE’s outreach efforts. When she was 3 months pregnant with her third child, a trained SCOPE pair (member of HDA and a priest) confronted her at her home. They encouraged her to receive antenatal care (ANC) and continued to support her throughout her pregnancy. Tigist received ANC and delivered her child 40 days ago at the Aymba health center. She brought her baby with her to the interview; he was quietly sleeping on her back.
Tigist expressed her gratitude for SCOPE’s outreach and the advice she received from the HDA member and priest. Unfortunately, Tigist got a severe kidney infection while giving birth. Thankfully she was delivering at the Aymba health center, where she received the treatment she needed and recovered quickly. She said she would have been critically ill without this medical treatment and support.