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Irish NGO recognised for improving maternity care in Ethiopia

Voluntary Service Overseas Ireland has helped reduce child and maternal rates by as much as 12 per cent in some hospitals.

VSO Director Malcolm Quigley (right), Dr. Lemesgnieu, head of one of the NICUs, and Paediatric Nurse Patricia Doyle.
VSO Director Malcolm Quigley (right), Dr. Lemesgnieu, head of one of the NICUs, and Paediatric Nurse Patricia Doyle.
Image: VSO

THE WORK OF an Irish non-governmental organisations in improving the standard of maternal and neonatal care in Ethiopia has been recognised by the country’s government.

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), among other organisations, received an award for Good Practices in Health Care yesterday from the Ethiopian Ministry of Heath for their work in setting up Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs).

After initially focusing on HIV and Aids in the country, VSO noted a need for an improvement in maternal, neonatal and paediatric care in the country.

The organisation focused on creating a “ripple effect” to achieve this, by opening units known as “neonatal intensive care units” and training local staff to run the units themselves and train others to set up their own in other hospitals.

“The evidence is there to show a reduction in child and maternal mortality rates,” Executive Director Malcolm Quigley said, “which were reduced from 18.6 per cent to 6 per cent in Yirgalem, but the thing that strikes me most is the change in outlook among the staff and patients.”

There is a greater sense of hope for their well-being and the well-being of their babies. The NICUs work, and are sustainable because they don’t rely on bringing in staff from places like Ireland to fill gaps in service delivery.

Quigley added that the role of VSO in the Ethophian health service is not to provide the healthcare, but to train teams of doctors and nurses to provide an improved system of healthcare.

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The programme receives funding from Irish Aid, and a large number of Irish doctors and midwives have taken part in the programme in recent years.

Read: Waterford twins honoured at Volunteer Awards for search and rescue service >

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Nicky Ryan

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