Category: "Health"

Ethiopia moving to address doctor shortage; critics say corners being cut

December 21st, 2012
Dame Endalew is in his final year at St. Paul’s Medical College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo by Anders Kelto.)

Ethiopia moving to address doctor shortage; critics say corners being cut

Source: PRI

Ethiopia has struggled with a shortage of qualified doctors for years. In an effort to resolve that, it's vastly increased the sizes of existing classes and opened 13 new schools. But critics say Ethiopia is training a generation of woefully unqualified doctors.

The pediatrics wing of St. Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa is a busy place. Nervous parents move in and out, waiting for their kids to be seen.

There aren’t a lot of doctors here, but there is one group of people that seems to be everywhere: young, white-coated medical students.

Until recently, Ethiopia had just one physician for every 100,000 people, but now the country is dramatically increasing the number of doctors it produces.

This year, the government opened 13 new medical schools, which more than doubled the number in the country. Ethiopia has also been increasing enrollment at existing schools.

“This year, for the first time, we enrolled 3,100 medical students, which is almost tenfold compared to what we used to enroll five, six years ago,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia’s foreign minister, who until recently served as minister of health.

Tedros says Ethiopia’s severe physician shortage is one of the country’s most pressing concerns.

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UNAIDS Executive Director applauds Ethiopia on its remarkable progress in the AIDS response

December 18th, 2012
Michel Sidibe meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in the Prime Minister's Office, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on December 17, 2012 Credit: UNAIDS/A.Fiorente

UNAIDS Executive Director applauds Ethiopia on its remarkable progress in the AIDS response


UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé congratulated the country on the dramatic decline in new HIV infections it has achieved during the past ten years on 17 December, while on an official visit to Ethiopia. Between 2001 and 2011, the rate of new HIV infections in Ethiopia among adults has been reduced by 90%.

“This drop in new HIV infections is a huge breakthrough,” said Mr Sidibé. “Ethiopia’s achievement demonstrates to the world that it is possible to prevent HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Mr Sidibé met with Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn, who took over as the country’s leader when Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi died in August this year. UNAIDS Executive Director congratulated Prime Minister Haile Mariam on his appointment and expressed confidence that he will continue the legacy of his predecessor, who was known as an important advocate for the AIDS response.

Prime Minister Haile Mariam said that his country’s development agenda was people centered and that it was designed to improve the health status of families with their full participation, using local technologies and community skills and wisdom.

Mr Sidibé called on the prime minister, as the incoming Chairperson of the African Union and as the chair of AIDS Watch Africa (AWA), to strengthen AWA as an accountability mechanism. Mr Sidibé also asked for the prime minister’s help in translating into action a new roadmap adopted by African heads of State at the 19th summit of the African Union held in Addis Ababa in July. The roadmap charts a new course for the continent’s responses to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and emphasizes the importance of shared responsibility and global solidarity.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tedros Adhanom, acknowledged the support of UNAIDS in helping Ethiopia make a dramatic reduction in new HIV infections. He also stressed that the new road map on shared responsibility was an innovative approach that encouraged African leaders to own the transformation of health responses on their continent.

While Ethiopia has made huge progress in reducing new HIV infections, it still faces challenges in stopping new HIV infections among children. UNAIDS’ latest World AIDS Day Report finds only 24% of pregnant women living with HIV receive antiretroviral therapy to reduce HIV transmission. Mr Sidibé met with Dr Kesetebirhan Admassu, Minister of Health, who briefed him on the country’s new accelerated plan for eliminating new HIV infections in children and providing paediatric antiretroviral treatment to children. Dr Kesetebirhan Admassu emphasized that preventing new HIV infections among children will be given more focus in Ethiopia’s health programme.

During his one day visit to Ethiopia, Mr Sidibé also met with Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission, Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko. The Commissioner requested UNAIDS support to the African Union Commission in developing a cross-cutting programme for the AIDS response involving all sectors of the African Union Commission.

Mr Sidibé met with Commissioner for Peace and Security at the African Union Commission, Ramtane Lamamra and called for the commissioner’s support in pushing for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1983, which was adopted in June 2011. The resolution calls for HIV prevention efforts among uniformed services to be aligned with efforts to end sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Ethiopia Introduces Health-Care Phone Service

December 15th, 2012
Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009. (file photo)

Ethiopia Introduces Health-Care Phone Service

By Marthe Van Der Wolf

VOA News

December 14, 2012

— Ethiopia is launching medical services over the phone. A young Ethiopian doctor is starting the service in an attempt to improve access to health care across the country.

"HelloDoctor" is Ethiopia’s first general medical hotline, in which a small fee is taken from a person’s mobile phone credit to receive medical advice or request home-care service.

Dr. Yohans Wodaje is the young Ethiopian doctor who founded HelloDoctor. He said that healthcare services for the average Ethiopian will improve through the new service, as there are not enough doctors and clinics for the whole population.

“Despite the huge improvement that Ethiopia made in the past 10 years regarding health coverage in its attempt to make universal basic health coverage a reality of the Ethiopian people, there are still many big challenges," he said. "And you have a very few number of highly skilled, highly specialized professionals, then you definitely need to link technology with those professionals to multiply the effect that they would have.”

Phone consultations

Getting medical advice by phone has happened in the United States, Canada, Australia and more recently also in parts of Latin America and Asia. A common question about the practice is whether doctors can give adequate advice without seeing the patient.

Wodaje agreed that face-to-face consultations are preferable. He said, though, that it is not always realistic in Ethiopia.

“We opt for phone-based consultations in situations, especially if you have to travel long distances to get to a health facility, if you have to wait in long lines to get to a health professional," he said. "And also, the professionals you need may not always be of the level that is required to help you.”

An average conversation lasts four minutes and costs about $2, which is still a lot of money for most Ethiopians. But a visit to a clinic, including transportation costs when living outside the city, usually adds up to $15.

Physicians prepared

The doctors working for the service are mostly in their late 20s. It provides them with extra employment, something the government might welcome because many doctors today pursue careers abroad.

Anteneh Kassahun plans to become one of the doctors for the service. He feels it gives him more opportunities.

“The first thing is, we will help our country, especially those who live in rural areas, they don’t get doctors. So when they need the health information they can call us and right away we will support them," said Kassahun. "The second thing is we have jobs in different hospitals and clinics, so we do it in our free time. The third thing is we get other training, especially how to talk to people, how to communicate with people and other things. And the fourth thing is we get extra money.”

Vast medical need

The Ethiopian government has employed 10 times as many health extension workers in recent years, but there is still a long way to go before everybody in the country can easily access health care.

Ahmed Emano of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health said that Ethiopia needs the involvement of private initiatives to improve health-care services in the country.

“If you take the private clinics in Addis Ababa, there are 2,015 health services in Addis Ababa only. From this, about 60 percent - more than 60 percent - are private services," said Emano. "So the government is already supporting all private partners and we establish public-private partnership with private service givers, so especially when we say the high level and some specialized services, we give support to private people who can afford to establish this type of services in the country.”

The World Health Organization recommends that in any country there should be no less than one doctor for every 10,000 citizens. Ethiopia currently has one doctor employed for every 33,500 people.

The pressure on health services in Ethiopia is due to increase as the population - now at 85 million - continues growing rapidly. Also, people in rural areas generally lack access to health care, and 84 percent of Ethiopians live in the rural parts of the country.

Ethiopia: Hamlin College of Midwives Graduates 15 Midwives

October 30th, 2012

Ethiopia: Hamlin College of Midwives Graduates 15 Midwives

Source: Hamlin Fistula Hospital, Ethiopia

It was an absolute thrill for all staff and students at the Hamlin College of Midwives in Addis Ababa, when our third year of midwifery students officially graduated in mid-October!

Founder of the college Dr Catherine Hamlin AC, attended the graduation ceremony only a day after arriving back in Ethiopia having spent six weeks on a busy and successful fundraising and media tour of her home country, Australia. Dr Hamlin made the trip to launch the new Australian fundraising entity for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia) and the major events raised much-needed funds for our work here in Ethiopia.

In her graduation ceremony speech, Dr Hamlin expressed how proud she is of the 15 graduates. “We send our precious midwives out from this college with confidence in their ability, and we wish them all joy and success in their new profession. They have been our family and I know they leave with a blessing from their tutors and other staff of the college. But we don’t leave them to become apprehensive! Tutors and supervisors will continue to visit our graduate midwives as they establish their midwifery practice in the countryside, and they have the support of an obstetrician-gynaecologist and ambulance service from our regional fistula centres.”

Deputy CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia Feven Haddis, an Ethiopian woman with two children of her own, referred to some recent external challenges. “In the past year there have been some changes within our management team, Board of Trustees and our international support network. Despite these changes, the staff of this great organisation have continued unabated in their dedicated work and with clear vision: To improve maternal health and to eradicate obstetric fistula from Ethiopia.”

The 15 newly-qualified midwives will join the 24 Hamlin midwives already working in the field within Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics in four key regions of Ethiopia. There are 70 students currently enrolled in the four-year residential Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) degree. Our intake of new students for the 2013 academic year was completed some months ago. It is an exciting place to be as we grow, and work towards the goal of providing a midwife for every pregnant woman in Ethiopia.

According to Sister Marit, the Vice-Dean of the Hamlin College of Midwives, the Hamlin curriculum is a rigorous one, which prepares the students for the challenges of midwifery in Africa. “These graduating midwives have conducted a minimum of 53 and a maximum of 93 deliveries during their training, so that they are competent in saving the lives of rural women in childbirth.”

Students are recruited from the countryside as they complete their final year of high school. Once qualified as midwives, they are then deployed back to the area where they grew up. They are familiar with the people and the language (there are approximately 80 languages and 400 dialects in Ethiopia) and are more likely to stay on to provide long-term midwifery services to a population with so few health services.

“A good midwife will always be kind to a woman in her greatest need”, reminded Dr Hamlin, in her speech to guests and graduates. “Always have sympathy and understanding, be close to your patients and develop a love for all the labouring women in your care. You are embarking on a great and ancient career. Midwives are mentioned in the first book of the Bible! You are a key person in the struggle to eventually eradicate fistula injuries or even death from obstructed labour. You are indeed on the front lines in the battle to prevent fistula. We have confidence in your ability and you devotion to the hard task ahead.”

If you would like to support the work of the Hamlin College of Midwives and the Addis Ababa Fistula please visit and click on the HOW TO HELP button.

Some interesting facts about the Hamlin College of Midwives, and midwifery challenges in Ethiopia:

For a fast-growing population of 100,000 million, Ethiopia has less than 2,000 qualified midwives; Australia has 12,500 midwives for a population of 22 million.
The fertility rate in Ethiopia is 5.32 babies per woman, compared to Australia’s 1.77 per woman.
1 in 7 teenage girls give birth every year in Ethiopia.
500,000 African women and girls die every year in pregnancy and childbirth.
93% of obstetric fistula sufferers give birth to a stillborn baby.
It costs $4,000 per year or $16,000 for the four-year residential degree at the Hamlin College of Midwives.

First National Public Health Training Center opens in Ethiopia

October 24th, 2012

U.S Government Supports Construction of the First National Public Health Training Center in Ethiopia

US Embassy Press Release

October 22, 2012
– Addis Ababa: The Ethiopian Minister of Health, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, and the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald E. Booth, broke ground on the construction of a new training center at the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI) today. The new national Public Health Training Center will be a state-of-the-art facility that will act as a training and support hub for Ethiopia's national public health monitoring, research, and laboratory network. It will be the first national training center for health.

The people of the United States, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), have committed US$ 4 million for the construction of this new National Public Health Training Center. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Programs in Ethiopia (CDC-Ethiopia) will manage the construction of this facility over the next one and half years.

Since 2004, CDC-Ethiopia has collaborated with the Ethiopian Government to renovate and construct regional public health laboratories, outpatient departments in hospitals, training venues for health workers, and other health related facilities that bring direct benefit to the people of Ethiopia. These collaborations with Ethiopia to improve infrastructure are essential for the improvement of healthcare delivery, which in turn enable the public to receive better quality healthcare.

“Strategically placed U.S. government investments expand and improve the functioning of the health care workforce; emphasizing holistic pre-service and in-service education, which prepares workers to address both HIV and broader health care needs” said U.S. Ambassador, Donald E. Booth, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Designed in accordance with international building codes and best practices in construction, the training center will be a state of the art four floor structure. Its facilities will include an auditorium that seats 500 people and a number of training and meeting rooms. It will offer wireless internet, fully equipped conference rooms with projection and video-conference facilities and multimedia classrooms.

The construction of the new EHNRI Training Center is expected to be finalized by April 2014.