Our work in support of the health of women and girls
"Communities and countries are only as strong as the health of their women"
Ongoing . . .
Ending a Preventable birth injury
Obstetric Fistula almost always results in a life of shame, isolation and poverty, but this preventable birth injury can also be corrected. The hard part is finding those women who suffer, while ensuring more do not join their ranks.
Unattended births, lack of prenatal care, and too-young mothers-to-be are often the cause of OF, but its effects are devastating. A lifetime of incontinence is made worse by the grief and shame of a stillborn, and the banishment from their homes and often their communities.
CPAR is training midwives and health workers on how to prevent OF - identifying those at high risk to develop the condition and making prenatal care easier to access for thousands of women in remote and rural Ethiopia.
For those currently suffering its debilitating effects, we've trained health workers on diagnosis, while encouraging them to seek out the 'hidden women' who suffer in silence. Utilizing the referral system set up by CPAR, we can transport the women to surgery with our non-profit partner - a specialty OF surgical centre - and provide the support to return to their families or villages, or to start their lives again anew.
Work in this area is part of the ESWA project and is expanding its outreach and will continue until 2025.
Ongoing . . .
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies
When women lack prenatal care, childbirth can be dangerous
According to 2020 WHO data, only 28% of births in Ethiopia are attended by a skilled health professional. Meanwhile, women in rural Ethiopia in particular have unacceptably high maternal and infant mortality rates. A lack of access to prenatal care, along with rigid cultural norms has put women and their babies at risk.
CPAR partnered with the North Shoa Zonal Health Authority to train midwives and healthcare workers in prenatal care, and introduced remote ultrasound technology - an entirely new service. Utilizing internet connected by CPAR, midwives were trained to perform ultrasounds and transmit the images to CPAR-recruited obstetricians in larger and urban health centres hundreds of kilometres away.
Our initial pilot program has been featured in a respected academic journal and presented to practitioners in Canada and the US.
Ongoing . . .
It's not easy being a girl
Girls belong in school. Period.
In Ethiopia and Malawi, the beginning of menses can mean the end of their education. Lacking facilities or the materials we take for granted, many girls miss school every month. Eventually, they fall behind and leave.
In Malawi, we piloted the Freedom to Learn program to work with schools and communities to improve the facilities available to menstruating girls, and purchase the materials required and conducted the necessary training so that girls can sew their own sanitary pads for their own and their classmates. Further, we are currently piloting the use reusable menstrual cups as an environmentally-friendly alternative to sanitary pads.
In Ethiopia, our Peer Educators in rural schools have been empowered to develop local solutions to the problems of access to sexual and reproductive health care, with some opting to provide 'safe spaces' in the school for girls managing their periods and providing the facilities and materials they need to do so.
In Malawi we're currently evaluating the program, while in Ethiopia, efforts will continue to provide menstrual health management based on the needs identified by SRH clubs and peer educators.
Ongoing . . .
Empowering Youth as peer educators
Child marriage, gender-based violence and child motherhood are just some of the topics peer counsellors tackle for their classmates
In rural Ethiopia, not only is access to sexual and reproductive health care limited, but so is the knowledge of its need and availability - particularly among youth.
As part of the larger ESWA project, CPAR worked to recruit and train peer educators and form school clubs where students can access the information they need on everything from birth control to gender-based violence and the impact of child marriage and motherhood.
By the end of 2022 there were 170 active school clubs and still more planned. With 470 students trained as peer educators, and 263 teachers/facilitators trained to support them, we have been excited by the ways in which these young leaders have applied what they learned and adapted to their own specific schools.
Our work with youth also extended beyond the schools and community centres and into the health centres and health posts where young people were encouraged to seek SRH services.
To that end, 37 adolescents are serving on four youth advisory committees, and 185 individuals (91 female, 94 male) are engaged in ensuring community spaces within health facilities provide youth-friendly/discreet SRHR information.