Ethiopian Health Care
With almost half of the population living below the poverty line, Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country’s healthcare system is one of the least developed in sub-Saharan Africa and is unable to effectively cope with the significant problems facing the fast growing population, estimated to be around 75 million, about a 16% increase over the last 8 years. More than three quarters of the country’s health problems are due to preventable communicable and nutritional diseases, and most go untreated. Ethiopia has a high birth rate (4.04 births per woman as of 2011), yet more than half of the children living in the country are undernourished and underweight, and the country’s death rate for mothers giving birth is one of the highest in the world.
In order for any significant changes to be made, there needs to be greater accessibility to the most basic resources, including water, transportation, and healthcare professionals. The lack of water is particularly debilitating to breastfeeding mothers, who are recommended to breastfeed eight to ten times a day, but cannot do so without remaining hydrated and nourished. The lack of transportation has created huge problems for those seeking medical treatment, because it prevents patients from being transferred from a rural health clinic to a hospital. In addition, these health clinics do not receive the funding needed to hire skilled health workers and often times do not even have medications or drugs on hand. As a result of the poor quality and service, most patients do not receive necessary care. Even Ethiopian hospitals, although better equipped than the health centers, are lacking adequate staff and face overcrowding problems.
As Ethiopia continues to grow and develop, it is crucial that changes be made to better the health and welfare of its people. Organizations like Save the Children are implementing innovative and focused strategies that focus on creating community-based solutions. In one project, Save the Children is focusing on educating mothers with life-saving information, including the importance of vaccinations, family planning information, and HIV/AIDS prevention. Save is also providing vaccinations for tetanus, the second major cause of infant death, to mothers and their children and promoting clean delivery practices. Through increased awareness and funding, these organizations can continue to improve communities across Ethiopia and make strides towards bettering the healthcare system of the country as a whole.