Activity 3 – Birth in Ethiopia – Michael Cooper

Ethiopia is a very interesting country. Its has some of the highest populations in the world, and is also home to some of the oldest found skeletons. Something else very special to Ethiopian culture is their birth traditions. “Newborns are fed butter, because it is believed to give them a soft voice”(Hodes, R. 1997). This really made me worry about Ethiopian children when I found out about this. Traditions in the United States would never do this, because it could potentially kill the newborn. However the tradition in Ethiopia has long been practiced and wove into their culture. Another interesting tradition in Ethiopian culture is the way Ethiopian women paint their newborns eyes. “Their eyes are often painted with kuul, a black powder ground from lead. This is done to protect the eyes from diseases and to encourage the growth of eyebrows for beauty”(Hodes, R. 1997). This is truly amazing, I could never imagine someone painting a newborns face. When I think hard on the traditions of the United States, I can not pinpoint any tradition (in American birth culture) that is of the same level as Ethiopia. Ethiopia has many valued traditions, that are passed down from the old to the young. Ethiopia women have very tough jobs in ensuring the survival of their newborns as well. Mothers must work hard each day and still not harm their unborn child. Once in early child life “Ethiopian women are accustomed to their child having diarrhea. In Gohand Province (Ethiopian province), the average child has 6.2 cases of diarrhea per year, and it is responsible of nearly half the deaths of Ethiopian Children”(Hodes, R. 1997). This is very sad, and is a huge health issue. When you think of all the germs in feces and how diseases could be spread it makes you wonder just how sanitary the Ethiopian lifestyle and culture really is. In comparison to the United States the healthcare system is no where near equal. Children who suffer from some type of diarrhea problem would receive some of the best healthcare possible a hospital could offer. After reading the article it also made me very humble. Americans take so many health benefits for granted, little do we know so many people around the world suffer from so much worst. In fact “globally, an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 annually as a result of complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia were accounted for 85% of the global burden (245,000 maternal deaths) including Ethiopia”(Baker, L., Kaso, M., & Addisse, M. (2007). Newborns struggle hard to survive in Ethiopia. Everyday is a test of faith and hard work. Most of these deaths are preventable when there is access to appreciate healthcare services, equipment, supplies, and skilled healthcare workers. After reading this the question that always comes to mind is what can we as American do to help out theses underprivileged countries. I always feel there is more we can do if we just advocate for help. It is also true that “according to the 2011 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey report, the maternal mortality ratio was 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for the seven year period preceding the survey”(Baker, L., Kaso, M., & Addisse, M. (2007). Americans take for granted the small things in life. It is a true accomplishment and blessing to have a healthy successful birth in Ethiopia.

Work Cited:
Hodes, R. (1997). Cross-culural Medicine and Diverse Health Beliefs Ethiopians Abroad (1st ed., Vol. 166, pp. 29-36).

Baker, L., Kaso, M., & Addisse, M. (2007). Birth preparedness and complication readiness in Robe Woreda, Arsi Zone, Oromia Region, Central Ethiopia: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Consumer Health. doi:10.1186/1742-4755-11-55

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