Bahir Dar is the capital of the Amhara region, near the source of the Blue Nile, which Ethiopians know as the Abay. Bahir Dar University is the location of one of Ethiopia’s medical schools.

Students practice suturing during SOO course in Bahir Dar. Photo © L. Woolford

An Essential Surgical Skills course was given to 44 rural physicians in Bahir Dar already in 1997. Dr. Philip Cooper worked with six local surgeons when teaching the five- day course.

The CNIS Structured Operative Obstetrics (SOO) instructors and providers courses were piloted by Dr Lorraine Woolford, CNIS Obstetrical Associate, in Bahir Dar in the spring of 2011.

Ethiopian maternity ward, 2011. Photo © L. Woolford

The SOO course targets the M.Sc. health officer students, who are in the cadre of non-physicians expected to provide emergency obstetrical and surgical services in rural Ethiopia in the future. The obstetrics skills that CNIS teaches are very much needed, as presently only 6% of Ethiopian births have a skilled attendant.