Tigray, fighting for maternity health with two sticks and bags of fertilizers

Mekelle:  22 April 2024 (Tigray Herald)

Tigray, fighting for maternity health with two sticks and bags of fertilizers

Today in Tigray, a regional state in northern Ethiopia, on the border with Eritrea, it suffers from a humanitarian crisis resulting from a genocidal war (Nov2020//Nov2022), 18 months of cessation of hostilities (signing of the Pretoria agreement on Nov2022) and a current political war. All this is aggravated during the cultivation period by the impending drought.

The war has resulted in the destruction of 90% of the health system by the Ethiopian forces, Amhara allies and Eritreans, more than 800,000 people killed, rape as a weapon of war on 120,000 women of all ages and social classes of Tigrinya origins, blockade humanitarian as a war crime by the federal government will and today a region with +1 million displaced people.

W/ro Kahsa

Currently the birr, the local currency, is waste paper. People suffer from hunger, lack of humanitarian support, despite the lull in hostilities and even foreign occupation, in the western area of ​​Tigray by the Amhara government and in border areas in eastern Tigray by the Eritreans, who block still access to humanitarian food distribution to the Irob district, from Adigrat.

A testimony from one of my contacts (22 Apr 2024) states that:

“I am in Mekelle right now and I am witnessing that the aftermath of the war has left a people in poverty, the devaluation of the Birr (Ethiopian currency) gives the feeling that money is worthless paper. The bombings in Tigray have destroyed more than houses, killed, injured, people and children and destroyed some factories that employed hundreds of people. What strikes me is that people are very afraid of thieves because poverty causes those who don’t have anything to eat to steal. At eight in the evening everyone is at home and very few on the street. Despite everything, Tigray is still a beautiful country.”

Tigray is beautiful because it is made up of resistant people, generations of suffering that has given the strength to that people in knowing how to help to help themselves: the only real solution in the noise made by the chatter, the round tables and the international meetings that relaunch appeals for concern for the socio-political and humanitarian situation of these millions of people.

Fighting for health at the maternity hospital with two sticks and bags of fertilizers

Women in Tigray today, in the catastrophic context, have to face problems that in pre-war times were easily solvable, monitorable and manageable.

Today, motherhood, pregnancy and childbirth can be potentially deadly for many women.

• Before the conflict, 90% of mothers in Tigray received antenatal care and more than 70% benefited from skilled deliveries, according to an analysis by health experts.

• Since the beginning of the conflict, the maternal mortality rate in the region has increased fivefold (x5), according to a study by the Regional Health Office.

• This level is comparable to that of 22 years ago. Most deaths are due to easily preventable causes such as bleeding. Over 80% of mothers died outside of a healthcare facility.

• Before the conflict, there were fewer than 200 maternal deaths per 100,000 births in Tigray. Now the average is 840, which is 210 times higher than the maternal mortality rate in Germany, 168 times higher than the maternal mortality rate in Austria.

• “Women become pregnant and cannot access treatment. And if she is in labor she cannot travel. There are no ambulances and we don’t have the money to pay for private transport. So, what should we do? ” asks Kahsa.

• And even when they arrive at a health facility they often cannot be helped.

• Kahsa and the women’s leadership team are trying to change that.

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