February 20th, Tuesday
Eager to see more progress with the maternal health initiatives, we visited three additional clinics, each given the Exemplary rating. Dedicated and creative leadership continued to be the key for success. At each of these clinics, we encountered stories of progress and community empowerment. The message from all three was clear: because of access to clean water, their reputation within the community had soared, drawing more clients in to access services.

Bargo Health Clinic

Bargo is in a very rural area of Sidama. Since rain was imminent, a quick tour was offered by the Director. Getting caught on the high-country roads is not desirable with rainfall. The maternity room was filled with three young women waiting to give birth. A traditional hut had been constructed to house women who had to eliminate long travel distances, had possible pregnancy complications or were of a very young age.

This is Not a Typo

Among the clinics visited, one left a lasting impression: Baatooshlweelo UuyinaaI Horo.  This is not a typo, but the Ahmaric spelling. With a commitment to high standards for both team and community, the Director has positioned the clinic as an innovator. Its sprawling garden not only provides food but also serves as an educational platform for local families, especially children, on nutrition. Recognizing the scarcity of meat and the importance of protein to a growing body, the clinic actively educates mothers on the importance of readily available protein sources of eggs and milk for children’s health.

Despite its modest size, this clinic caters to a population twice the norm at 70,000.  With just 51 staff members, the clinic’s is stretched.

The Director hosted us to a coffee ceremony with popcorn and baked bread.  We shared this with the staff and enjoyed some time getting to know each other better.

Hawela Lida Health Center

Guiding us through the shaded compound of Hawela Lida Health Center was their lead physician.  A young man, he spoke excellent English and plans to pursue a surgical orthopedic residency.  The Director who spoke no English was rather quiet.  With a staff of 89 people, it is amazing that they have a physician’s expertise at their disposal.

What truly resonated throughout all our visits was the deep dedication of these directors and their teams. They stand as real heroes, navigating the complexities of public health with resilience and compassion, tirelessly championing the cause of improved health outcomes for their communities.

As I think back on these clinics, one truth remains constant: the pursuit of maternal health is a collective endeavor— the leadership, staff and community all have to be engaged and committed.
The passion and dedication these directors and their staff exhibit is inspirational. The outreach these clinics do, from nutrition education to follow up visits after home births, are really making a difference n the lives of the women, children and families in Sidama.