Dasash Guade was born prematurely at 32 weeks in Durbete hospital in Amhara region, after her mother, Alemayehu, was admitted to the hospital suffering from antepartum hemorrhage—a major cause of death among women and newborns in Ethiopia. Born at just 2 pounds -- or 0.9 kilograms -- Dasash’s young life was in imminent danger. Her organs were not fully developed and she could not breathe without assistance.
Alemayehu had not received any antenatal care or routine health checkups during her entire pregnancy. Fortunately, the USAID Transform Primary Health Care project had trained the medical staff at Durbete Hospital in caring for fragile newborns like Dasash, and they were able to intervene to save her life. Medical staff placed her in an incubator for the first 21 days after birth, then administered additional treatment with skin-to-skin contact for another 32 days. Dasash was still small at just 3 pounds and 8 ounces (or about 1.6 kilograms), but was stable enough to be released from the hospital.
The most vulnerable time for both a mother and a newborn is during birth and the first hours immediately after birth, where as much as 45 percent of all neonatal deaths occur in the first 24 hours, and 75 percent in the first week after babies are born. To Improve the survival rate of newborns like Dasash, USAID provides training workshops on newborn care for nurses and general practitioners in Ethiopia. During the last two years, USAID’s Transform Primary Health Care project has trained medical staff in over 100 hospitals, of which 90 percent now have newborn intensive care units to save the lives of mothers and babies like Alemayehu and Dasash.
“The care my daughter received from the hospital saved her life. I now know about the importance of regular check-ups, proper nutrition and caring for my children including having them immunized as the hospital staff have explained it to me,” says Dasash’s mother, Alemayehu.