Posted by Michael Bell, Past District Governor and Chair , District 7070 Rotary Foundation Committee

Dear Club Presidents and International Service Chairs,

Your District has reached out to a well-known Canadian partner, Cuso International, and has created an opportunity to assist mothers and newborns in Ethiopia........

Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth around the world.  In 2015, Cuso launched the Midwives Save Lives (MSL) program in partnership with the Canadian Association of Midwives.  MSL works in a number of countries with a high rate of maternal mortality.  In 2017, over 321,000 pregnant women and newborns benefited from the MSL program.  It delivers training on basic emergency obstetric and newborn care and respectful maternity care for midwives, strengthening their capacity to quickly and effectively respond to complications.

In Ethiopia, the maternal mortality ratio is 412 deaths per 100,000 live births and 29 neo-natal deaths per 1,000 live births.  In Canada, the ratio is 7 deaths per 100,000 live births and 4.3 deaths per 1,000 live births!  While Ethiopia has made impressive progress to reduce the mortality rates, and despite a steady decline in both maternal and infant mortality rates, both remain high. 

Last year in Ethiopia, the MSL program trained 114 community health workers to recognize high-risk pregnancy.  This is significant as 80% of women deliver their babies without a skilled birth attendant.  Cuso volunteers are working with midwives’ associations and non-governmental organizations to develop and deliver training, to share expertise and to help partner organizations like Rotary International build capacity to advocate for midwives.

In Ethiopia, Cuso and its partners are focusing on improving the clinical skills of midwives in underserviced geographical areas.  Rotary has the opportunity to help fund the purchase of basic equipment to support student midwives while they are in their clinical placement.  These are items often in short supply but essential for maternal health care.  Each $500 donation buys one of these life-saving kits. There are six important items included in a Midwife Birth Kit: a birth delivery tray; an ambu bag for each newborn; a stethoscope; a blood pressure cuff; an examination light; and a speculum.  Your $1,000 donation becomes $15,000 when matched by Cuso and allows them to continue this important work.

This is an opportunity for Clubs in our District to be involved in a compelling project to aid those less fortunate. The preliminary budget for the project is estimated at $50,000. With the assistance of each Club in our District, in raising the basic funding, we reduce infant and maternal mortality. The collaboration between Rotary and our partner Cuso International is key to the designing, planning and implementation of a successful project which would improve the quality of life for this disadvantaged population. You can help save the lives of mothers and babies. Through your club’s donation, you would be providing immediate and direct benefits to those who need it most.

Thank you, in advance, to all of the District 7070 Rotary Clubs who have already pledged funds toward our goal of $50,000. We are asking for your help to raise the necessary funds for these life-saving tools and you will have the opportunity of a lifetime to meet the midwives who will use the birthing kits. Join our delegation to rural Ethiopia to distribute these essential birthing kits scheduled for March/April 2019. Space is limited, there are only 10 spaces available!

Thank you,


More information is available and a presentation can be arranged by contacting our District Foundation Chair
PDG Michael Bell at