Ethiopia is home to Africa’s second-largest population, and its development has come a long way since the turn of the century. In 2018, the country had the fastest-growing economy in the region, yet agriculture and pastoralism are still the backbone of Ethiopia’s economy. Eighty-five percent of the workforce depends on farming and livestock to make a living. But life in the agriculture industry is anything but stable — success is entirely subject to the weather. Millions of small farmers are feeling the effects of the warming climate, as shifting seasons, flooding, and droughts jeopardize their crops, the health of their livestock, and their own health and well-being. When the rainy season is dry and harvests fail, families are often forced to leave home in search of better work, food, water, or greener pastures for their cattle.
The main health concerns in the country include maternal mortality, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS — all exacerbated by malnutrition and lack of access to clean water. There’s great disparity between rural and urban areas: Finding health services is much more difficult in the more remote regions with poor infrastructure.
Maternal, neonatal and child mortality in developing states
One in 15 children in Ethiopia dies before turning 5, and most of these deaths occur during infancy. Maternal mortality is just as much of a concern. In 2016, there were 412 maternal deaths per 100,000 births in the country — a rate 25 times higher than in the U.S.
Despite significant reductions in mortality rates and increased coverage of primary care services in recent years, women and children remain at high risk in the more remote regions of Ethiopia. These four geographic regions make up over half of the country (by land mass) – Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Somali – and are known as Developing Regional States (DRS), with a combined population of over 8 million people.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among women, and the stigma of discordance
Ethiopia has made significant strides in reducing HIV incidence and HIV/AIDS-related mortality over the last several decades. Despite progress in controlling the epidemic, however, there remain significant disparities between affected populations across the country.
Women are disproportionately affected by HIV. There’s a social stigma surrounding the virus as well — so much so that those who are HIV-positive often keep their diagnosis from their own partners.
Protecting marginalized communities from COVID-19
Project HOPE is strengthening COVID-19 prevention, preparedness, and case management for health systems in Somali Regional State and Dire Dawa city administration, with support from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. The project aims to support 327 outpatient health facilities and 68 inpatient facilities across the Fafan, Sitti, Jarar, and Erar Zones as well as Dire Dawa City.
The COVID-19 situation in these areas is complex, as they host high numbers of internally displaced people in communities where the risk of transmission is high. Somali Regional State also borders three countries, and there are high cross-border movement and direct transport routes, making it particularly susceptible to the virus.
Bringing HOPE to Ethiopia
Our history in Ethiopia
Project HOPE’s work in Ethiopia began in 2017 with the foundation of the PEPFAR-funded USAID Community HIV Care and Treatment (CHCT) program, which reaches more than 200 priority districts. Though this program is a relatively new one, we’ve been fighting the global HIV epidemic for nearly three decades.
Reducing the burden of HIV
As one of the leading international health organizations with a presence in Ethiopia, HOPE is committed to helping the country’s fight against HIV.
Through the CHCT program, we’re expanding access to comprehensive HIV education, prevention, care, and treatment services in Ethiopia’s most vulnerable communities. We’re helping high risk populations get tested; supporting people with HIV to manage their condition; and strengthening community capacity to provide quality health services.
All of our progress is underscored by innovation — we’ve explored several approaches to improving testing and treatment and fostering greater facility and community collaboration.
Additionally, through the use of the CommCare platform, we help health workers more efficiently collect information, better manage patients, and improve data for decision making.
Improving health for mothers, newborns and children
As a partner on the USAID-funded Transform: Health in Developing Regions program, HOPE is increasing access to quality maternal, neonatal, and child health services for the country’s unserved and underserved populations. As part of the five-year, $30 million program, we’re reducing gender inequality in health services and supporting patients and health workers in making more informed decisions.
Through the CHCT program, HOPE has provided testing services to more than 110,000 people with HIV and helped 120,000 people with HIV better manage and treat the disease. We’ve trained more than 500 health workers, enrolled more than 115,000 people living with HIV in community adherence support services, and distributed over 1.5 million condoms to help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.
HOPE is also helping thousands of mothers give birth safely, improving the health of thousands of newborns across Ethiopia. Since fall 2017, we’ve mentored health workers in over 50 health facilities and trained over 5,200 health workers on best practices for newborn care.