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VSO seeks midwives to support maternal health in Ethiopia

International development charity VSO is calling for midwives and other maternal healthcare professionals to consider volunteering in Ethiopia where they will improve healthcare for countless mothers and babies.

In Ethiopia 14,000 women lose their lives through birthing complications each year and only 6% of women have access to a skilled birthing attendant. (1)

The majority of these deaths could be prevented. VSO is helping to address this by working on a government scheme implementing improved training and low-tech systems in hospitals, training colleges and universities across Ethiopia.
VSO has roles for experienced nurses, midwives, obstetricians, gynaecologists, paediatricians and health managers to help improve the quality of Ethiopia’s maternal and neonatal healthcare.

Jon Rosser, Interim director of VSO UK, said:

“Too many women and children who live in developing countries are dying from conditions or complications which could be prevented. People who volunteer on this programme will be making a lasting contribution to the long term improvement of Ethiopia’s healthcare system.

“We are urging any interested midwives, nurses and doctors to please get in touch and help reduce the rate of maternal mortality in Ethiopia, which is 100 times higher than in the UK. The knowledge, skills and experience you can share with colleagues in Ethiopia will help save lives.

“In addition to making a difference to people’s lives and having a rewarding personal experience, health professionals also develop their career skills while volunteering.”

Trained nurse and midwife Jacqueline McAuley has volunteered with VSO for just over two and a half years in both rural and urban hospitals in Ethiopia.  In her first week, she delivered a baby in an auto rickshaw taxi after the driver spotted her walking towards a hospital in her white coat. Her primary role has been to build capacity among student and practicing midwives.

Jacqueline said:

“Seeing local colleagues utilising the tools that I’ve imparted to them is immensely rewarding. Before leaving the UK and Ireland, I never saw a woman die in childbirth, but here I’ve seen a number of women die that probably didn’t need to. By improving the clinical skills of nurses and midwives and helping people use equipment like the partograph you help them identify issues sooner.

 “This experience has enriched me personally and professionally in many ways. I’ve acquired a number of skills that I wouldn’t have gained as a clinical midwife in the UK such as project management, facilitation and teaching both within a classroom and in hospital. Personally, it’s given me a taste of volunteering, a taste of working in development and a desire to continue to do so.”
VSO works with the UK’s Royal Colleges to ensure that the experience volunteers gain in these challenging roles is recognised as a valuable part of their professional career development. 

There are a range of placements across the 33 developing countries where VSO works for volunteers, for further information about how to apply, please visit www.vso.org.uk/volunteer/

Editor's notes

High-quality pictures and video are available of Jacqueline at work in Ethiopia


1. Source – UNFPA ‘State of the World Midwifery Report’ http://www.unfpa.org/sowmy/resources/docs/country_info/profile/en_Ethiopia_SoWMy_Profile.pdf

About VSO:

VSO is different from most organisations that fight poverty. Instead of sending money or food, we bring people together to share skills and knowledge. In doing so, we create lasting change. VSO volunteers work in whatever fields are necessary to address the forces that keep people in poverty – from education and health through helping people learn the skills they need to make a living. In doing so they invest in local people, so the impact they have endures long after their placement ends.
For more information please contact:

Susannah Taw, VSO Media Officer, +44 (0)20 8780 7621
Out of hours media mobile +44 (0)7500 918 478