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Eritrea: Eritrea Health Profile


Eritrea's progress in health  

Eritrea employs an exemplary approach to ensure the provision of health services to its citizens. Since independence the Ministry of Health played a great role in building and rehabilitating hospitals, developing its human resource, controlling vaccine-preventable diseases and the spread of HIV and, improved its emergency services. Like the rest of the country’s sectors, this was in ruins during the colonization.

At the time of liberation in 1991, the Government of the State of Eritrea inherited a health care system, totally inadequate in terms of physical facilities, trained human resource as well as an inequitable distribution of resources, availability of drugs and other medical supplies. In the past fifteen years (1991–2007), the Government and the people of Eritrea worked hard to reverse the health and health services situation that was prevailing at the time of liberation.

Despite the country’s engagement in active war with Ethiopia from 1998 to 2000 and during only relative peace (no peace-no war situation) since then, many of Eritrea’s achievements in the health sector were exemplary even at the global level.

Social safety nets

There is no social safety net managed by the state, except for the mainly diaspora-funded “martyr’s fund” supporting the families of fallen ex-fighters and soldiers. There is no state-organized pension system in the country; a law introducing such a system was approved in 2005, but has not been implemented. Social safety nets remain based on extended family networks and associated with customary law. Private remittances from members of the diaspora are an indispensable source of income for a large number of Eritreans residing in the country.

Equal opportunity

In principle, all social groups have the same access to the limited services provided by the state, such as basic health services, education and subsidized food available by means of coupons. In fact, parts of the population, mainly those belonging to the Muslim faith, ethnic minorities and women, are less likely to be found in institutions of higher education, the middle and higher level of administration, and in higher military ranks. Jehovah’s Witnesses are still denied all civil rights and other religious minorities (Christian and Muslim) face persecution.

Health and Human services Eritrea At A Glance