Ethiopia has its health care flaws and challenges, but what it seems to have captured is an appreciation for simplicity. Ethiopia’s health care system is very easy to understand, even though implementation and results are not easily achievable.
This week I am in Ethiopia with Save the Children and its new campaign Every Beat Matters to observe frontline health workers and the programs that help them achieve the best outcomes with their patients.
On the community level, health extension workers (HEWs) primarily help expectant and new mothers, newborns, and children. They are trained to diagnose and treat pneumonia, malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea. They perform antenatal care and prevention and even deliver babies. And they also provide follow-up care for new mothers.
This video explains how one mother’s baby had a fever and the health extension workers were able to provide immediate care for her.
In addition to health extension workers each community also has a health development army (HDA). These women are a volunteer unit that receives information, help, and health care services from the HEWs and spread the word throughout the community to benefit from the services of the health posts.
If a patient has an acute illness that the health extension workers cannot treat women and children are referred to health centers where they have a better chance of being helped. And if there is a problem that a health center cannot help, a patient is referred to a district hospital like the Bishoftu hospital highlighted yesterday.
Learn more about frontline health workers at Save the Children’s web site Every Beat Matters. Also, read about my first day in Ethiopia in My First Day in Ethiopia: An Army of Women Fight to Save Lives and Day 2: Food by Perscription.