World Health Day
Posted by Amy on Saturday 6th April 2019
UNIVERSAL HEALTH: THE PROBLEM
Primary health is a basic human right, but across the world and in Ethiopia far too many people don’t have access to quality, affordable healthcare.
There are many factors behind this which include:
AFFORDABILITY: Many people, especially those from rural or lower socio-economic areas, simply don’t have the money for healthcare. Without a national public healthcare system, many families are forced to prioritise other essential needs such as food, water and clothing over medical care.
SERVICES: There is a lack of uniform healthcare providers across the country. While cities and built-up districts have multiple hospitals or health services, remote or rural districts have very few. This means the number of health services can be vastly outweighed by the number of people needing them.
LOCATION: Adding to this, those who do live in remote or rural areas must often travel long distances, sometimes lasting days at a time, to reach their closest health clinic. This frequently deters people from seeking pre-emptive care and can quickly turn a health concern into an emergency.
AWARENESS: Away from the cities, many communities lack the knowledge and resources to identify and treat health concerns. People may not be aware that the symptoms they are experiencing are treatable (as is often the case with women suffering fistula who believe they are cursed), or may be ashamed to admit something is wrong (as can happen for people with a disability; something many communities hold a stigma against).
Factors such as these rob people of their right to healthcare.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH: THE SOLUTION
Today on World Health Day, we’re spotlighting four of our local partners in Ethiopia who are taking great strides in universal health coverage.
From people with disabilities, to mothers in rural areas, to the impoverished, to the terminally ill, here’s how we – you, us and these local partners – are working towards #HealthForAll.
CHESHIRE SERVICES: People with disabilities
Stigmas against disabilities, cost of mobility aids and lack of disability healthcare providers means many children and adults living with disability don’t have access to the assistance they need.
Cheshire runs rehabilitation centres which provide corrective surgery, physiotherapy and prosthetic limbs/mobility aids free of charge for children in need.
They also provide small start-up loans to adults with disabilities giving them the chance to start their own small business and provide trade and agricultural training to families with disabled children so parents don’t have to struggle between covering living costs and covering quality medical care for their disabled child.
WOMEN & HEALTH ALLIANCE: Women
While both treatable and preventable, conditions such as obstetric fistula and pelvic prolapse are still prevalent to this day. Women experience many barriers against maternal healthcare including lack of services/access in rural areas, lack of awareness about treatment and ingrained social stigmas against fistula.
WAHA works holistically to address all of this. In addition to their three hospitals across Ethiopia which provide free, quality fistula surgery, they also provide free transport so that women from remote areas can safely and quickly access the treatment they need.
WAHA also train and mobilise field workers to create broader community awareness and sensitivity towards maternal health, and run a reintegration program where fistula survivors can learn traditional crafts and business skills. While this program was recently handed over to the local government to manage, it continues to economically empower women and ensure they can support themselves and their families well into the future.
YENEGE TESFA: The impoverished
A large portion of Ethiopia’s population is rural, impoverished and has poor access to safe water, housing, sanitation, food and healthcare.
To address this, one of the projects Yenege Tesfa runs is the provision of medical support and health related services for destitute children and adults who desperately need help.
They provide medical coupons to ensure that the very poor and seriously sick (regardless of age, gender and ethnicity) will get free medical services at quality health institutions. Yenege also cover the cost of transport when needed so that distance is no deterrent to people seeking healthcare.
Yenege also recognise that education goes hand in hand with healthcare, and so provide community training on topics such as HIV/AIDS prevention, sanitation, hygiene and contagious disease to share the information that’s needed for safe and healthy communities.
HOSPICE ETHIOPIA: The terminally ill
There are more than four million people are over the age of 60 in Ethiopia, but only one hospice. The idea of hospice and palliative care is still relatively new in Ethiopia, which means that those who are terminally ill struggle to find the care and dignity they need.
Hospice Ethiopia provide comprehensive palliative and hospice care to cancer and/or HIV/AIDS patients. This includes pain management, medication, counselling and away-from-home housing, all provided at no cost to patients.
Hospice Ethiopia understands that for patients wishing to stay at home, there can be an extra burden placed on their families and so provide financial support to families to ensure patients can continue to receive the care they need.
More broadly, Hospice Ethiopia is working to promote universal palliative and hospice care across Ethiopia. They run palliative care training for health professionals and are creating stronger awareness about this emerging sector among policy makers and the general public.