Angelina Jolie realised the sheer enormity of the tasks aid workers have in Ethiopia after a recent visit to the health clinics of Addis Ababa, where she learned 50 per cent of the women who give birth there die in labour.

The actress, a United Nations ambassador, was shell-shocked by what she learned from aid workers who can do little to halt the daily death toll.

She recalls, "I visited a malaria clinic, and I was shown how blood is taken, dyed, and then viewed under a microscope. I was literally able to see parasites in the blood, and I heard about how the medicines that the clinic has often don't work.

"We stopped at another clinic to learn about women's health issues. Clinic workers spoke of trends in maternal mortality.

"It was alarming to learn that almost half of the women who made it to the clinic during labour still died during childbirth."

29/06/2005 09:25