Sexual and Reproductive Health Right

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Project title: Sexual and Reproductive Health Right project in Ethiopia.

Project area: no geographic limit

Project coordinator: Yirgu G/hiwot (MD).

Project duration: Aug. 2001- Dec.2004.

This is a brief status report of the status of status of sexual and reproductive health right project of ESOG . The project has three phases.

Phase I: With the objective of raising awareness of the obstetrician and gynecologists.

The workshop on violence on women was the first phase of the project.  The workshop as undertaken with the following objectives:

  • Raise the awareness of stake holders and members alike.

  • Raise the knowledge of members to identify women with evidences of violence.

  • Train core trainers for the society to train other health workers.


Accordingly, the workshop took place on June 3&4, 2002 At the Hilton Hotel Addis Ababa.

The following dignitaries delivered speeches on the opening ceremony of the workshop:

  • His Excellency Dr. Kebede Tadesse, Minister of Health,

  • Her Excellency W/o Gifti Abasiya, Minster D’etal, women’s affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister,

  • His Excellency Dr. Michaeal Janclosse, country representative, WHO.

Members of ESOG and RH community attended the panel discussion. On second day members of the society had training on management of child sexual abuse and related issues.

Phase II: has an objective of drafting a national code of ethics on Sexual and reproductive heath.

Specific Objectives

The following specific objectives were set:

  1. Identify resources available nationally  (within Ethiopia) and internationally for the basis of the new code of Ethics.

  2. Identify gaps of ethics in SRH in all the above mentioned category of Health workers.

  3. Conduct consultation meeting with stakeholders on drafting the code of ethics and identifying areas to develop the code of ethics.

  4. Explore possible mechanisms to integrate the drafted code in to curriculum of the above category of health workers.

Activities performed

It was initially planned to develop an ethical code for obstetricians and gynecologists as the project guideline states but in discussions conducted it was felt very appropriate to develop the document for all health workers in Ethiopia for the following reasons:

  1. The number of Obstetricians & gynecologists in the country are few (123 full members and 12 associate members) for the whole country.

  2. A number of category of health workers like general practitioners, health officers, nurses, midwives are important stakeholders in the provision of reproductive health services in the country in the over all attempt of decentralizing health services and providing health care as close to the community as possible.

  3. There is no ethical guide for majority of health professional categories listed in 2.

One of the challenges of this specific project is the fact that the code of ethics has to be incorporated into the medical curricula. In Ethiopia all higher institutions are accountable to Ministry of Education, the government being the principal provider of tertiary level education. When it comes to medical education there are five medical schools, which are accountable to five different universities. Curriculum development is quite an extensive process requiring a number of consultative activities and lengthy process of review. Approval is by the senate of the universities. As it is difficult to go through this process, it was felt better that  those instructors working in the department of obstetrics and Gynecology of  these universities be involved in the process as this would create a sense of ownership, and facilitate its introduction in the teaching activity.

Having identified the key participants in this endeavor, a draft document was prepared after identifying all national resources on the issue and as well as international documents addressing issues of reproductive health.

A zero draft of the proposed code of ethics was circulated for comment by the executive committee of the society. After incorporating all the comment made, a first draft document which contained general issues of ethics, the IPPF client’s bills of rights and the 11 reproductive rights was prepared. This document also contained discussion points with respect to the reproductive rights like issues of maternal mortality, unsafe abortion, STD and HIV and other cultural or traditional issues like early marriage, abduction, rape, trafficking of woman. The intention was to provoke discussion and help participants articulate their role in the above issues and also define common behavior by all categories of health workers. About 100 copies of this document were made available at the 11th annual conference of the Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which was conducted in June 2003 at the Sheraton hotel, Addis Ababa . This conference was also attended by His Excellency Prof. Giuseppe Benagiano, the Secretary General of FIGO for whom the document has also been given. The ethical code underwent two review process and was  finally published in 2004.

In addition, from a number of discussions it has become clear providers are not aware of what constitute reproductive rights. In order to fill this gap and also create awareness on reproductive health rights a poster has been prepared.

Phase III: Has an objective of advocacy on identified areas.

Following the first awareness creation meeting and that of the recommendation by the meeting of steering committee, it was found out that there are a number of outstanding issues in reproductive health in the country. Of these, two problems were considered for this project unsafe abortion, and Violence against women particularly rape with the following objectives.


  1. Increase public awareness on the problem of unsafe abortion and make sure that unsafe abortion remain in the public agenda by involving the media.

  2. Train health workers particularly nurses and midwifes on the issue of post abortion care and influence their attitude favorably.

  3. Develop guideline for management of victims of sexual assault and standardize reporting. 

  4. Initiate a model clinic in Gandhi Memorial hospital for management of sexual assault. Gandhi Memorial hospital is chosen because it is the only women’s hospital providing service and teaching, and introducing good practice at the teaching hospital can have a countrywide effect.

Activities undertaken are:

  1. A  guideline on management of sexual assault has been published.

  2. A model Clinic for management of Victims of Sexual assault has been established in the premises of Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

  3. A training workshop for medial people has been organized to familiarize them with sexual and reproductive health and  rights where 17 journalists from print , and electronic media has participated.

  4. A training work shop has been organized for nurse midwives to introduce the code of ethics and also sexual reproductive health and rights.

Current status: Phased out, Dec 31,2004.

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Last updated: 11/08/05.


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