February 23, 2024

Today was a milestone for progress with the maternal health projects. Our meeting with Mr. Belayaneh, the head of the Sidama Regional State Health Bureau, was both insightful and promising. Mr. Belayaneh oversees four zones, each comprising 15 districts, and encompassing numerous kebele (sub-counties) which house W2T’s 34 health clinics.

Susanne and Gashaw underscored the critical importance of ensuring the success and sustainability of Phase 1 initiatives before we can launch Phase 2. Central to the conversation were the challenges surrounding 12 health clinics that have yet to meet standard requirements. The largest hurdle is the lack of commitment from clinical directors to implement community membership fees. Susanne offered best practice examples from 8 of the Exceptional ranked clinics, describing staff paying into the Membership Fund to access showering rights and the cultivation of vegetable gardens to use in nutrition, education and revenue generation. Mr. Belayaneh, who is also a former Health Clinic Director, empathized with these challenges and is committed to addressing them directly.

In a hierarchical society like Ethiopia, Belayaneh’s influence carries a great deal of weight, and his willingness to convene a meeting for all 12 of the clinics in the coming weeks signifies a significant step toward achieving higher standards.