ELSSA = Essential Life Saving Skills for Africa 

Author(s): Dr Paul Weir MD FRCOG

Chairperson, Essential Life Saving Skills for Africa.

The major causes of Mother and Newborn deaths and morbidity in Africa are: haemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, obstructed labour (resulting in obstetric fistulas), miscarriage and poor resuscitation of newborn babies.

ELSSA, a Northern Ireland based charity, provides Essential Obstetric (Mother) and Newborn Care (EONC) training courses for doctors, midwives and clinical officers to address these conditions. All our facilitators are experienced midwives or consultant obstetricians, and are volunteers. We use evidence based ‘skills and drills’ training specifically developed for Africa. 

We have been running EONC courses in South Sudan since 2013 because it has one of the highest rates of maternal and newborn deaths in Africa and a very fragile health system. We now work through the Post Graduate Medical Centre at the Juba Teaching Hospital. 

To date 146 South Sudan health professionals – 49 doctors, 16 clinical officers and 73 midwives and 8 midwifery tutors have attended the ELSSA EONC courses and have gained additional knowledge and skills.   The value of EONC courses is established beyond question, pre- and post-course assessments show significant increases in knowledge and skills. Increasing the neonatal resuscitation skills will alone save many lives. It is estimated that an EONC attendee (midwife, clinical assistant, doctor) will provide care for 7,000 -10,000 maternities in a 30-year career.  

 An important objective of the ELSSA team is developing sustainability of EONC training in partnership with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of South Sudan, Post Graduate Centre.  The aim is to encourage, develop and mentor South Sudanese facilitators.  This is the vitally important group, who with support; will roll out the EONC training to the regional centres and primary health care facilities were the major beneficial impact will occur


For more information see www.elssafrica.org or contact [email protected]