Improving maternal and child health is essential to sustainable development.

Ethiopia has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal deaths and disabilities in the world. Women have a one in 52 chance of dying from childbirth-related causes each year. One in 20 children die before their first birthday.

A lack of access to health care and high rates of child marriage create serious challenges for the survival of mothers and their children in rural areas. But improvements are being made, largely due an innovative, community-based program attempting to deliver primary care across the country by female Health Extension Workers.

Health Post Projects

For most people living in rural villages in Ethiopia, their first point of contact within the health system is usually with a Health Extension Worker. Health Extension Workers provide primary health care services, with a special focus on maternal and child health.

Health Extension Workers are based in Health Posts, but they spend much of their time in the villages, regularly visiting households and checking in with women. They are focused on improving maternal, neonatal and child health; improving access to family planning and reproductive health; preventing, controlling, and treating infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; increasing education around sanitation and hygiene; and improving the nutritional status of women, infants and young children.

Research has shown that Health Extension Workers are making a real difference.

We are working to improve their reach, by constructing new Health Posts in remote areas, where women and girls face the most obstacles in accessing health care.

Pads for Girls Projects

Very often, girls in remote villages of Ethiopia can’t find or afford sanitary pads, and they don’t have toilets or water at school. So they get scraps of old clothing to use, which are unreliable and unhygenic, and they stay at home.

Those missed days of school each month add up and it’s easy for girls to fall behind. Many girls drop out (51% by Grade 8) and many grow into women with less education, less opportunity and less say in their communities.

All because they don’t have access to sanitary pads.

We are committed to providing girls in rural areas with locally made reusable pads to help them manage their periods and stay in school.