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Ethiopia: Ethiopia Health Profile


According to the chief of the World Bank's World HIV/AIDS Program, Ethiopia has only 1 medical doctor per 100,000 people. However, the World Health Organization in its 2006 World Health Statement gives a figure of 1936 physicians (for 2003),which comes to about 2.6 per 100,000. Globalization is said to affect the country, with a lot of educated professionals leaving Ethiopia for a better economic opportunity in the West.

Ethiopia's major health problems are said to be communicable diseases caused by poor sanitation and malnutrition. These problems are exacerbated by the shortage of trained manpower and health facilities.

There are 119 hospitals (12 in Addis Ababa alone) and 412 health centers in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has an incredibly low life expectancy at birth with the current average age being 45 years old. In America the average life expectancy is over three decades longer at the age of 77. In addition to the life expectancy rate being so low, there is as well a very high infant mortality rate with over 10 % of babies dying next or in a little while next birth. Currently Ethiopia only has 3 doctors per 100,000 people. These numbers are dangerously low compared to America, which has 550 available for each one hundred thousand Americans. Currently Ethiopia, as a whole is fighting a losing battle against the AIDS epidemic.

The low proportion of doctors with western medical expertise leaves the door wide open for potentially less reliable traditional healers that use home-based therapies to heal common ailments. High rates of unemployment leave a lot of Ethiopian citizens unable to support their families. In Ethiopia an increasing number of “false healers” using home based medicines have grown with the rising people. The differences between real and false healers are almost impossible to distinguish. However, only about ten % of practicing healers are authentic Ethiopian healers.Much of the false practice can be attributed to commercialization of medicine and the high request for healing.Both men and women are known to practice medicine from their homes.It is most commonly the men that dispense herbal medicine similar to an out of home pharmac

Ethiopian healers are additional commonly known as traditional medical practitioners. Before the onset of Christian missionaries and westernized medicine, traditional medicine was the only form of treatment available. Traditional healers extract healing ingredients from wild plants, animals and rare minerals. Part the leading number of disease that leads to death include aids, malaria, tuberculosis and dysentery. Largely because of the costs, traditional medicine continues to be the majority common form of medicine practiced. A lot of Ethiopians are unemployed which makes it difficult to pay for most medicinal treatments.Ethiopian medicine is heavily reliant on magical and supernatural beliefs that have little or no relation to the actual disease itself.A lot of physical ailments are believed to be caused by the spiritual realm which is the reason healers are most likely to integrate spiritual and magical healing techniques.Traditional medicinal practice is strongly related to the rich cultural beliefs of Ethiopia, which explains the emphasis of its use.

In Ethiopian culture there are two major theories of the cause of disease. The initial is attributed to God or other supernatural forces, while the other is attributed to external factors such as unclean drinking water and unsanitary food. Most genetic diseases or deaths are viewed as the will of God. Miscarriages are thought to be the result of demonic spirits

One medical practice that is commonly practiced irrespective of religion or economic status is female genital mutilation.Nearly four out of five Ethiopian women are circumcised.There are three levels of circumcision that involve different degrees of cutting the clitoris and vaginal area. A lot of of these practices are done with an unsanitary blade with little or no anesthetics. It can result in heavy bleeding, high pain, and sometimes death.

It was not until Christian missionaries traveled to Ethiopia bringing new religious beliefs and education that westernized medicine was infused into Ethiopian medicine. Today there are three medical schools in Ethiopia that began training students in 1965 two of which are linked to Addis Ababa University. There is only one psychiatric facility treatment in the whole country because Ethiopian culture is resistant to psychiatric treatment.Although there have been huge leaps and bounds in medical technology there is still a large problem in the distribution of medicine and doctors in Ethiopia


The Ministry of Health (MOH) is demonstrating strong country leadership. The MOH has developed the national policy and its strategic plan in collaboration with its partners:the Health Sector Development Plan (HSDP) which has been in place since 1997/8. Its third phase covers a period of five years i.e. July 2005 to June 2010. The general goals of the HSDP III are to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases.
Communicable diseases remain major health problems. Infectious and communicable diseases account for about 60-80 % of the health problems in the country. The national adult HIV prevalence is 2.2%. Data shows that relatively higher prevalence part females (2.6%) than males (1.8%). Ethiopia ranks 7th out of the world’s 22 high burden nations for TB. The prevalence of all forms of TB is 643/100,000 people with TB mortality rate of 84 per 100,000 populations per year. In addition, malaria is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Ethiopia. Leprosy, onchocerciasis, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma are as well prevalent in different parts of the country in various extents.

Increased efforts are being focused on the health of women and children which remain an area of major concern. Although maternal mortality has decreased from 871/100,000 to 671/100,000, it still remains high. Skilled attendance at birth is only 6% and access to emergency obstetrical care is still limited. Violence against women and harmful traditional practices (female genital mutilations, abductions, early marriage, etc.) are prevalent, and are part the major factors that contribute to the high maternal mortality and disability. With the support of diverse partners, MOH is working to improve maternal health through a multi-pronged strategy, which includes expanding access to basic and emergency obstetric care through appropriate training of mid-level health professionals and expansion of the number of facilities that can provide such care. The country-wide community-based Health Extension Programme (HEP) is as well having a significant impact in terms of providing services due to women and developing an effective referral system for maternal care. Under-five mortality stands at 123 per 1 ,000 and the plan is to decrease it to 54 per 1,000 by the year 2015 to meet MDG4.

Steady evolution is being made to this end, inclunding through the expansion of immunization; full immunization coverage had exceeded 80% by June, 2007. Major MOH-led reforms and infrastructural expansion efforts are underway to address severe health system constraints service delivery In general, utilization of health services remains low for a number of reasons, inclunding limitations in the services and delivery capacities available, inclunding the affordability and quality of the services. Huge disparities still persist in terms of access to health care part geographic areas and populations. In addition, shortage, uneven distribution, poor skill mix and high attrition of trained health professionals remain major impediments.

The health care facility expansion effort has significantly enhanced physical access to health services particularly at primary health care units, i.e. health centers and health posts. With a view to expanding primary health care at the grassroots, the government-led HEP completed the training and deployment of over 30,000 Health Extension Workers (HEWs) – two for each village health post -- whose major functions are health promotion and disease prevention. A new HMIS has as well been designed and is being prepared for countrywide roll-out. With a view to removing the financial barrier to health care access, the government is as well in the process ofdesigning a social health insurance scheme. The ongoing sector-wide reform process is as well expected to bring about improved and additional efficient ways of working throughout the public health sector.


• Huge burden of communicable diseases
• Increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases and conditions
• Weak health system (service provision, HR, infrastructure/logistic and finance) WHO

Water supply and sanitation in Ethiopia

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