With about 109 million people (2018), Ethiopia is the second most populous nation in Africa and the fastest growing economy in the region.While being famous for how quickly the country is picking up economically, it is rather infamous for healthcare. Ethiopia lacks crucial growth in the healthcare and social sector, with severe food insecurity, acute malnutrition, lack of access to clean waters, basic sanitation and other political disputes. As of 2015, about 23.5% of the population is below the poverty line making less than $1.90 a day, limiting access to quality healthcare. Ethiopia is the one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV and AIDS epidemic, with almost 16,000 Ethiopians dying each year. Ethiopia is also one of the 30 High Burden Countries for Tuberculosis (TB) with almost 49,000 deaths in 2016. Ethiopia needs to improve its sanitation system, ramp up its healthcare facilities and increase the social awareness amongst its citizens about the dangers of communicable diseases and how to take precautions.
As of 2018, 690 000 people were living with HIV and AIDS. Biological and social factors (like child marriage by the age of 15) make women more vulnerable to AIDS, especially in adolescence and youth. Only 30.25% know how to prevent sexual transmission of HIV. Menstrual hygiene is extremely poor in Ethiopia leading to other communicable diseases like Hepatitis B. What is stopping young females from receiving help are societal stereotypes. Sexual diseases remain a taboo topic, and this has prevented females from receiving the education they need to prevent these diseases. A study has found that 25% of girls in Ethiopia do not use any menstrual hygiene management (MHM) products to manage their periods and isolate themselves during menstruation. In Northeast Ethiopia, only 25% of schoolgirls had learned about menstruation and hygienic management in school. All these statistics point towards one major flaw, public education and awareness.
Ethiopia also faces long droughts throughout the year, being the second driest state after Australia. 62 million Ethiopians lack access to safe water and 97 million lack access to improved sanitation. Of those who lack access to improved sanitation, 23 million practice open defecation. In Ethiopia, 60 to 80 percent of communicable diseases are attributed to limited access to safe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene services. Africa is one of the two major regions with the least improvement in accomplishing the MDG on sanitation by 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa only has 30% coverage with only a 4% increase from 1990 . This is a vital concern because of the associated massive health burden as many people who lack basic sanitation engage in unsanitary activities. The practice of open defecation is the primary cause of faecal oral transmission of disease with children being the most vulnerable. When Ethiopia does receive a large amount of rain, the water stagnates due to the poor drainage system in the country. 14% of the new drains and 28% of the old drains are inadequate for storm water removal. The stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes leading to Malaria. 66.1% of the population is at risk of Malaria, with an estimated 2.9 million deaths in 2016. Another major flaw is the sewage, sanitation and water system.
Over the years, with constant attention and guidelines being set up by the UN and WHO, the Ethiopian Government has put in place several policies to construct a robust healthcare system in the long run. The government has been putting in the effort to make primary care affordable and accessible to all, with special reference to the rural residents of the country. In 1993, the Health Sector Development Programme (HSDP) was set up. This is a 20 year, 4 stage programme. Phases I and II of the HSDP were in place from 1997-2005 with the ambitious focus of improving health service delivery and quality of care, health facility rehabilitation and expansion; human resource development, pharmaceutical supply and management and health care financing. Phase III of the HSDP ran from 2005 to 2010 and focused on improving maternal and child health and addressing communicable diseases. By 2015, 16440 health posts, 3547 health centres and 311 hospitals had been established. In 2018, the Ethiopian Government sanctioned a 1.4 billion dollar budget for the fiscal year of which three quarters of the amount are being channelled towards improving and enhancing the healthcare sector.
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