Sunday, 23 January 2011


In 3 weeks time we will be flying to Addis Ababa to start our journey to Ethiopia. Unlike Dervla Murphy, who travelled around the country on foot and mule, we are planning to obtain some wheels for use whilst we are there. So yes, we appreciate that some level of 'roughing it' will be necessary, but we are constantly looking for ways in which we can make things more tolerable. After all, a year is a long time for a faranj (foreigner) in Ethiopia.

Key to our preparations are obtaining a mosquito net and a mattress cover, both items being necessary to reduce the number of bugs from feasting on our tasty western, and right now, delicate bodies. There is also a fair amount of reading to be done too. In order to make the most of the trip, I need to understand how the health system actually works across Ethiopia. My extensive reading tells me that large sums of money, much of it donated through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, have been invested in an attempt to reduce poverty by 2015. One of the goals focuses on reducing maternal and child mortality. So it seems that a series of 'Millennium villages' have been identified to receive funds from the United Nations to help them set up systems that will meet the millennium goals. So in response to the goals surrounding health improvement, the health extension worker program has been set up in collaboration with the Ethiopian government. The health extension workers are trained in health care and are based in the villages (kebeles). They work with families within the kebeles to improve the health of the community. They also work with 'Voluntary community health workers' who are also based within the kebele and who demonstrate the positive health effects that can be gained from following the advice of the health extension workers.

In addition to the community health programs, there are government and faith hospitals. There may be more but so far, I haven't come across them. It's difficult to determine how well either of these hospitals function or the extent to which they are able to treat the population, but this will be something that we will explore when we go out in a few weeks time.

So that's a summary of health care as I understand it. Perhaps my perspective/understanding will change as I see the systems first hand. For now, all I have to go on is a lot of policy documents published by various organisations involved in improving the health of developing countries.

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