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An innovative medical device to facilitate childbirth in Ethiopia

Progress stage
Jun 2024 to May 2025
  • Ethiopia
  • Health
  • Jun 2024 to May 2025

This project, led by Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), aims to study the effectiveness of an innovative medical device for childbirth in Ethiopia. With financing from FID, the goal is to conduct a feasibility study of this alternative method–already tested in other regions–in a low-income country, and to evaluate the take-up by local populations.

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Complications during childbirth are a major public health issue, with a significant impact on mortality and morbidity rates for both mother and child. In Ethiopia, close to 12% of pregnant women experience complications when giving birth. These types of complications are responsible for between 17 and 36% of maternal deaths, 24% of neonatal deaths and 36% of stillbirths in the country (Addisu et al., 2021 ; Ayenew 2021; Ministry of Health Ethiopia. Health Sector Transformation Plan 2020-2025; Gedefaw et al., 2021; Maheu-Giroux et al., 2015).

In Ethiopia, this issue is compounded by insufficient use of instrumental delivery, a delivery technique using forceps or a vacuum which is deemed safer than a cesarean section (Nolens et al., 2019.). This delivery technique is also considered to be more cost-effective than a cesarean section (Gallagher et al., 2018.). This low rate of use is common in low-income countries, due to a shortage of health care staff who have been trained to minimize the risk of harm to mothers and their newborns, and the lack of technical and financial resources for instrumental procedures (Bailey et al., 2017.).


The OdonAssist is designed to facilitate childbirth while reducing the risks for both mother and baby. This device consists of an inflatable ring connected to a plastic sleeve that goes around the baby’s head, reducing the pressure applied to the baby and facilitating delivery. Designed to be safer and easier to use than conventional devices, it can be operated by medical staff after a single training session on a simulator.

The CUAMM team, in collaboration with Saint Luke’s Hospital in Wolisso, Ethiopia, plans to conduct a feasibility study on the instrument at the medical facility. The funding from FID will be used to evaluate the efficacy and financial impact of the device, and data will be collected on the potential for its wider roll-out across Ethiopia in the future.

OdonAssist also benefits caregivers, including midwives, pediatricians and obstetricians, in terms of both comfort and safety, and is designed to improve quality of care for women.

Expected results

The goal of the project is to increase the use of instrumental delivery and reduce the number of unnecessary cesarean sections, as well as to improve mother and baby health.

The pilot project should confirm the efficacy of the device, which has already been proven in France and England, and encourage wider acceptance of OdonAssist among medical practitioners and women in Ethiopia.

Doctors with Africa (CUAMM)

Doctors with Africa (CUAMM)

Founded in 1950, Doctors with Africa (CUAMM) is an international NGO whose aim is to strengthen the health care systems of eight sub-Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia. By conducting and disseminating scientific research, the organization aims to ensure that health care is a fundamental right for everyone, everywhere. Maternal and child health is a top priority for the organization, which has launched a “Mothers and Children First” program to improve access to obstetric care.


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