“You could have been one of those many girls married off at 13,” said Yeabsira’s father when she was a child. Since then, Yeabsira has been passionate about improving women’s health in Ethiopia. She plans to create an innovative fistula health center in the country that will address both the negative economic and the socio-cultural effects of fistula through a three-year residential training program. While women are living at the health center, they will have classroom, administrative and midwife training and learn about family planning methods and the dangers of early childbearing. Yeabsira’s center will be a high-impact, culturally sensitive means of impacting and empowering the women she has been fortunate enough not to become.
Deep prejudice against people with HIV/AIDS in India leads to patterns of discrimination and maltreatment, even in the hospitals they depend on for treatment and care. Dr. Glory Alexander resolves to end medical discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients by educating hospital staff and the patients themselves, using her successes as a lever to push for tolerance in all spheres of Indian life. The ASHA Foundation focuses on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, raises awareness and primary prevention to vulnerable women in India, decreases stigma and discrimination in the medical setting, upgrades the services of maternal health and helps in the birth of HIV negative children. The ASHA Foundation is working with 23 mission hospitals in the four South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The first three are high prevalence states.
Yeabsira Mehari will be involved in the “Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT)” project, which is one of ASHA’s Foundation’s four major project areas. Yeabsira will help improve the hospital treatment of women at risk of transmitting HIV/AIDS to their offspring. Her main responsibilities will be to engage in initial dialogues with the administrators of the 23 participating institutions in order to sensitize doctors and paramedical staff to PMTCT issues. In addition, Yeabsira will find and train counselors in HIV/AIDS and PMTCT best practices, and set up voluntary counseling and testing centers in the prenatal clinics of participating institutions.