Simegn Tadesss and Eyoel Taye, CHAMPS Ethiopia
The incidence of stillbirths in Ethiopia is as high as 30 per 1000 births, being the highest rate in the world. Factors associated with stillbirth are hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, intrauterine growth restriction, infection, and cord around the neck. In spite of these known causes of stillbirth, communities have their own way of understanding stillbirth. This study aims to identify societal perceptions about causes of stillbirth in Harar city. A qualitative study was conducted using non-probability sampling from October to November 2018. Purposive and snowball sampling methods were used. Semi-structured interview, focused group discussion (FGD) and in-depth interviews were used.
The data shows that the majority of attributable factors of stillbirth were institutional factors related to the absence of compassionate care, limitation on medical material supply and medical errors. Additionally, maternal aspects and cultural myths were also mentioned; among them, malnutrition, usage of traditional medicines, poor hygiene, history of abortion and trial to abortion during pregnancy, the absence of family planning, physical abuse and, an accident during pregnancy were seen as some of the maternal factors associated with stillbirth. Curses, some traditional beliefs like ምች (mïch), ወፍ (wof) or Allaatti (allaattïï), waan-ijoollee (waan-ïjoolléé), and sexual intercourse after the seventh month of pregnancy were factors categorized as myths. This study underlines the need to improve quantitative and qualitative anti-natal and delivery care at health facilities. In addition to the holistic intervention on women’s health it is important to tackle economic and cultural aspects increasing professional and community awareness to reduce stillbirth.
Simegn Tadesss has an MA in Social Anthropology and BA in Journalism from Addis Ababa University, and is working as Theatre for Development Coordinator at CHAMPS Ethiopia, HHR. His MA thesis was titled: “Waan-Beeraa: Women Dominated Indigenous Medication System of the Guji Oromo”.
Eyoel Taye has a BA in Sociology from Jigjiga University, and is working as counselor and community liaison at CHAMPS Ethiopia, HHR, clinical research site. She is an MA student at Haramaya University, with her final year project titled “Sociocultural factors influencing physician-patient interaction towards patient satisfaction”.