Faith Based Leaders Mobilizing Communities to Save Lives of Mothers and Newborns

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While Ethiopia was able to make significant improvements over the past decade in improving the health of mothers, newborns and children, the maternal, newborn and child mortality rates are still unacceptably high. Despite the significant achievements over the past decades, 1 in every 35 children dies within the first month of their life, 1 in every 21 children dies before celebrating the first birthday, and 1 of every 15 children dies before reaching the fifth birthday. Maternal mortality ratio stands at 412/100,000 Live Births, meaning for every 1000 live births, 4 women die during pregnancy, child birth or postpartum period.

Engaging faith-based leaders has multiple benefits including creating a large pool of educated and influential MNCH-CBNC role models that are likely to display and implement positive MNCH-CBNC behaviors and practices in their own families. In addition, faith-based leaders are able to work effectively with their constituent to promote key MNCH-CBNC messages because of their trusted and respected roles in communities. Working with faith-based leaders in Ethiopia has the potential to create an enabling environment for positive normative and social change leading to improved maternal and newborn outcomes.

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