Category: "Health"

CDC provides 128 million USD to Ethiopia

June 8th, 2010

CDC Director Visits Ethiopia and Public Health Programs

Addis Ababa, June 8, 2010
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This afternoon, Dr. Teodros Adhanom, Minister of Health, warmly welcomed a productive discussion with Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States of America and Dr. Kevin DeCock, Director of the Center for Global Health. Dr. Frieden, a US government public health official, is visiting Ethiopia from June 8 until June 12, 2010.

Their discussion covered topics such as America’s collaboration with Ethiopia to expand health service delivery, strengthening the health workforce, laboratory systems, as well as information systems strengthening for detecting and responding to epidemics, infrastructure development and attaining health services delivery targets, especially prevention and reduction in mortality from HIV/AiDs, TB, malaria, and childbirth. Dr. Frieden expressed his support and appreciation for the commitment that the Ministry of Health is making to strengthen its national health sector and commended Dr. Adhanom for leading the way forward.

CDC provides Ethiopia with $128 million in support for strengthening health services, including the Ethiopian Health Management Information System (HMIS), health service delivery for HIV and TB, surveillance and survey activities, laboratory, and epidemic response through Present’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding.
Dr. Frieden also spent time discussing maternal and neonatal mortality as well as tuberculosis in Ethiopia. Maternal mortality is currently the top priority for the Ethiopian Ministry of Health as well as within the United States President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.

Dr. Frieden expressed enthusiasm for the Ethiopian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (EFELTP); a program that CDC-Ethiopia began in early 2009. The purpose of the EFELTP is to develop a cadre of highly skilled public health professionals that will strengthen the capacity of the MOH and Regional Health Bureaus.

During his visit, Dr. Frieden will observe several HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment as well as maternal health programs in both Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Dr. Frieden will tour different hospitals supported by CDC-Ethiopia including Bishoftu, St. Peters Specialized TB Hospital, and Zewditu. Dr. Frieden will also observe the National Health Extension Workers Program in Dire Dawa and present a public lecture on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at the Addis Ababa University Auditorium. The lecture is entitled, “Global Non-Communicable Diseases.” Dr. Kevin DeCock, Director of the Center for Global Health will also present updates on global HIV/AIDS.

Successful Immigrant Returns To Ethiopia, Brings His Hometown Their First Ambulance

May 17th, 2010

Successful Immigrant Returns To Ethiopia, Brings His Hometown Their First Ambulance

Sebri Omer emigrated from Ethiopia to the United States as a young man and began to seek the American Dream. He went to college and now has a family and a successful small business, as owner of a gas station.

When he returned to Ethiopia, however, he was shocked by what he saw. Rampant disease and a desperate need for a hospital in his hometown of Harar. He sold half of his businesses and began to fund such a hospital. Just recently, he delivered to Harar the town's very first ambulance.

Threat of paralysis stops surgeon's work to treat Ethiopian man's scoliosis

May 11th, 2010

Threat of paralysis stops surgeon's work to treat Ethiopian man's scoliosis

Yalew Birkie Assefa hoped American doctors could straighten his twisted spine.

The Ethiopian man's first surgery April 29 went well. But surgeons had to stop his second 10-hour surgery a week later. A few hours in, they discovered that straightening his spine would likely paralyze him.

"His spinal cord was telling us it wouldn't allow us to do the correction," said his surgeon, Dr. Geoffrey Cronen.

Cronen and another surgeon, Dr. Anthony P. Moreno, were part of a pro-bono medical team that volunteered its services to perform the surgeries at University Community Hospital in Tampa. Debbie Ordes, president of the Palm Harbor chapter of the Scoliosis Association, helped arrange Assefa's procedure with the team after he contacted her online three years ago, asking for help.

During Thursday's surgery, instruments monitored what was going on with Assefa's spinal cord, Cronen said.

Read Full Story from St.Petersburg Times

ETHIOPIA: In search of "made-to-measure" HIV prevention

May 5th, 2010
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons A rapidly expanding road network could blur the rural-urban HIV prevalence divide

ETHIOPIA: In search of "made-to-measure" HIV prevention

Source: IRIN

With more than half of all Ethiopian adults tested for HIV in the past five years and a campaign for behaviour change in place, specialists are now calling for a more targeted approach.

“Most-at-risk populations” (MARPs) have to be targeted through better understanding of how the epidemic is affecting them and in turn, to develop a more specific response.

"The government has launched a vigorous campaign to fight HIV, but now it is important to ... target specific groups among whom the epidemic is raging," said Desmond Johns, UNAIDS country director for Ethiopia. "High testing numbers mean little unless you are testing people at risk, such as commercial sex workers."

High-risk groups in Ethiopia include sex workers, uniformed forces and migrant workers, street children, students and discordant couples. Men who have sex with men have, for the first time, been included in the national strategic plan for the next five years, still in draft form.

"We are preparing to undertake a national MARPs survey to determine the type of MARPs, their distribution, HIV prevalence, patterns of sexual behaviours, predisposing factors and their potential in bridging the spread of the epidemic to the general public in order to inform how we can conduct tailored behavioural change interventions with a package of prevention services to these groups," said Meskele Lera, deputy director-general of the Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO).

"MARPs are already a priority; what needs to be done is scaling up services to a level of universal access among these groups," he added.

A more focused response means that regional HAPCOs will need to draw up specific plans for prevention in their regions, where the risks and prevalence differ widely.

"For instance, the proportion of men not circumcised in Gambella [in western Ethiopia] is 53.2 percent, according to the Ethiopian DHS [demographic and health survey] 2005," Meskele said. "In most of the regions, male circumcision is above 90 percent, so promoting male circumcision as a biomedical intervention should be done in targeted areas like Gambella region, by taking into account the national context."

A changing landscape

"This is not your typical sub-Saharan epidemic; we have a generalized epidemic overall, but within that we see higher prevalence rates in the urban areas and usually lower prevalence rates in most rural areas of the country," Akram Eltom, HIV team leader for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), told IRIN/PlusNews.

According to HAPCO, the provisional national HIV prevalence in 2010 is 2.3 percent, but big cities such as Addis Ababa have an average HIV prevalence of about 7 percent, while rural areas – home to 85 percent of the population - have an average prevalence of 0.9 percent.

A rapidly expanding road network means, however, that the distinction between urban and rural populations is becoming increasingly blurred as small towns spring up along the new highways.

"Ethiopia doesn't really suffer from forced migration; what we have is low intensity but high-volume migration for economic purposes," said WHO's Eltom. "The country's road network is expanding extremely quickly; what used to be called the Nazareth corridor ... from Djibouti through Nazareth to Addis, may now have expanded to include other cities, given the improved road transport and emerging work opportunities in several new urban areas.

"Whether it is the emerging patterns of human mobility... or whether it is the emergence of new socio-economic realities in population settlements not previously thought to be affected by HIV, the social, cultural and economic interactions associated with all of these are opening up a host of complex vulnerability situations that merit better understanding and a more targeted response."

He noted that work was already under way to tackle the new, diverse face of the epidemic.

According to Meskele, HAPCO was drafting a prevention roadmap to direct the country's multifaceted HIV epidemic.

"By augmenting our interventions to reflect the epidemic and dealing with the heterogeneous epidemic heterogeneously, we will see even more advances in behaviour change," he said.

Ethiopia among worst places to be a mother - survey

May 4th, 2010

Ethiopia among worst places to be a mother - survey

Despite making progress in cutting the infant mortality rate and rural health care in Ethiopia, the country remains to be one of the worst places to be a mother, according to the Save the Children report for the 'best place to be a mother'.

The report assesses countries on access to education, economic opportunities and maternal and child health care. Ethiopia is grouped in Tier III countries described as Least Developed Countries and ranks 25th in The Mother's Index for this category.

Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Sudan, Mali, DR Congo, Yemen, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Niger,
and Afghanistan are the ten worst places to be a mother. Read full report and see the index from Save The Children website.

In Ethiopia, 18,200 women and girls die each year as a result of complications during pregnancy or childbirth106 and more than 500,000 each year suffer from pregnancy related disabilities, the report said. An estimated 321,000 children die each year before reaching their fifth birthday – 127,000 of them newborn babies in the first month of life.

There is only one doctor for every 42,700 people in Ethiopia and most of these doctors are located in urban centers, while 83 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Health systems and infrastructure are seriously underdeveloped, and transportation problems are severe, especially during the rainy season. Almost all births take place at home (94 percent) without a health professional and 1 child in 8 dies before reaching age 5.

The government of Ethiopia is now tackling these challenges head-on with an ambitious new national plan that prioritizes the health of mothers and children. With the support of several external donors, a program was launched in 2004 to train and deploy female health extension workers to rural villages. Some 31,000 of these HEWs are now in place, each with a year’s training in basic health services such as safe childbirth, essential newborn care, diarrhea treatment, hygiene and sanitation, malaria prevention and treatment, and health education.

Under a new policy approved in February 2010, the HEWs will also be trained to provide antibiotics to treat pneumonia, the largest killer of children in Ethiopia. In addition, nearly 11,000 health posts have been constructed, with another 4,000 planned. Preliminary evaluations show the HEWs are having a positive impact on the health of the communities they serve. Improvements have been documented in immunization rates, contraceptive use and hygiene. There have also been decreases in the incidence of malaria due to improved use of bed nets to prevent mosquito bites at night. More people are constructing and using latrines, and disease outbreaks are reported more rapidly to health officials.

Some questions have been raised about the quality of the one-year training program for the HEWs. Studies also point to persistent shortages of skilled nurses and doctors to provide back-up support to the health workers. Resource limitations – such as supervisors, medical equipment and supplies – may also hinder the impact on key indicators.118 Health extension workers report they are generally content with their work and motivated by adequate salaries, housing and the availability of safe water and toilet facilities. However, one study found that only 16 percent of HEWs expect to stay more than three years in their current position. While most find their work fulfilling, they say they hope to be promoted to better positions in nursing or environmental health, the report concluded.