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My last working day

View Ethiopia on gunny64's travel map.

I have been looking at some statistics! In 2015, Ethiopia had a maternal mortality rate of 353/100 000. This compared to our rate in Australia of 6/100 000. Horrifyingly, Sierra Leone (where Marjolein is going next) had a MMR of 1360/100 000! The neonatal mortality rate (death of a baby up to 28 days of life) in Ethiopia was 27.7/1000 compared to 2.2/1000 in Australia. This is scary stuff and highlights the incredible disparity in safe childbirth that still exists around the world.

I've also looked at some statistics from our hospital in Barhirdar. Firstly, and most importantly, there have been NO maternal deaths for over 3 years. This is an amazing feat and a tribute to the quality of care provided by all the staff. They deliver between 150-210 babies per month and the caesarean rate hovers around 10%. Last month they had 210 births, one stillborn baby, no neonatal deaths and a CS rate of 8%. This month is likely to be very similar. What an incredible achievement!


I have seen so many women over these last 4 weeks with terrible obstetric histories. Many have lost one or more babies, most have given birth at home under difficult circumstances, and several have no living children. The fact that they have booked into the hospital to deliver this time around has dramatically improved the odds of them having a live and healthy baby. What a wonderful gift to these women to have access to safe childbirth.


Yesterday was my last working day here in Barhirdar. Mostly it was quiet but I was called early this morning to see a woman who had been labouring all night with her 1st baby. The midwife was unsure of the position. In fact, it was a brow presentation! This particular position of the baby's head is always incompatible with a vaginal birth and I therefore performed a Caesarean. While waiting to start, I was reflecting on the reason I am here. Even 5 years ago, this woman would probably have continued to labour for days, delivered a dead baby and then likely ended up with a fistula (or died herself). It is wonderful to know that I have truly made a difference!


I finally managed to visit the market. The housekeeper, Meron, let me tag along with her. OMG! I have never seen so much chaos (or mud). I have been to many markets around the world but this was a new level. It was frantic and exciting. The sounds and smells and sights were overwhelming. Having to also navigate the slippery, muddy pathways added to the thrill. I came away exhausted but exhilarated (and totally covered in mud!). I have no idea how Meron does this several times a week and remains perfectly clean!


Today was my last in Barhirdar and it was full of joy. It will be with great sadness that I write my last blog post tomorrow during the long journey home.......

Posted by gunny64 09:05

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Chris it's been great following your blog and seeing your great pictures. What a wonderful experience for you. I wish you a safe journey home where I'm sure a wonderful welcome awaits you.
Ann x

by Ann Windsor-Hampton

Your blog has kept me entertained. Well done. You're my hero xx

by penny

Chris those stats are amazing for us who work in the country where the access to obstetric care is very available and safe and world class and most have access to this.
My query is what F/U happens for the women you deliver by C/S in Ethopia for their subsequent pregnancies?

by Wendy hogan smith

Have really enjoyed reading about your experiences Chris, they are inspiring - and well done you for overcoming all the challenges of traveling to and working in Ethiopia to make such an important contribution to women's health

by Cathy F

Looking forward to hearing you tell the stories in person and seeing the expression on your face and the light in your eyes as you remember these times. Travel safe . Bev

by Bev

You are a legend Dr.Chris, may God bless you always. I love your blog. Safe trip home!

by Edyr

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