17 April 2018

Ethiopia: Expanding Quality Health Care

Quality health care is essential for the welbeing of a society

In developing countries, the health care system is struggling with diverse health problems that stretch from communicable diseases like AIDS, malaria and non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Moreover, other factors related to number, quality and capability of health care workers with less effective management of the sector are also declining the effectiveness of the system. Ethiopia, in order to overcome such aforementioned problems, launched national health care quality strategy in 2016 that is being implemented till 2020. The strategy aims to provide more effective, more accessible and more equitable care for every citizen, all the time. All patients regardless of age, geography, or income will have equal access to reliable, excellent clinical care which protects them from harm and treats them with dignity and respect.

The strategy has also its focus on health care system from prevention to palliative care. It gives special emphasis on reducing maternal mortality, prevention and management of sever acute malnutrition which affects about 40 percent of country's children, effective management of pressing diseases of communicable and non communicable which takes 30 percent share of causes of deaths in Ethiopia and timeliness of clinical and surgical services.

Of course Ethiopia has achieved a milestone in improving its public health care system in the past decades. It is one of exemplary countries in achieving millennium development goal through reducing children's mortality rate by nearly 70 percent even three years before the deadline.

Speaking at 54th annual conference of Ethiopian Medical Association last Thursday, Minister of Health Professor Yifru Birehan explained that Ethiopia also reduced malaria by 80 percent in the last ten years. Beyond this, guided by prevention oriented health policy, the nation has enjoyed so many improvements in advancing the rural community's knowledge of preventing diseases and expansion of health centers, according to him.

Despite of the smart programmes and past achievements, the sector has also a number of bottlenecks that resulted in negatively shadowing on the quality health care services citizens are receiving. To emphasize on some of them: lack of practitioners, health care centers and medical equipment facilities that are very crucial for the effectiveness of the services the sector provides.

Particularly when it comes to health care professionals, according to researchers on the issue like Dr. Tsion Assefa, even though the country is producing large number of medical doctors annually, many of them are found in abroad. She also added that in order to fill this gap and meet the public demand, the government decided to enroll massive number of students in health care profession studies.

Presenting the findings of her research on the conference, she said that there is a miss much between enrolment limit and resources available for training. But the government is working relentlessly to manage this constraint, she added.

Furthermore, Dr. Tsion recommends that ministries of health and education as well as medical schools need to work closely together to minimize consequences of the problems. "In addition to this, they should work on the underlying and basic problems. Physicians should also exercise free dialogue and tolerance with leadership and management." She also added that more longitudinal studies are needed to examine the effect of massive production.

Ethiopian Medical Association President Dr. Gemechis Mamo also said, "The association is working to enhance quality of graduating health professionals by updating their knowledge of their fields and technologies."

In spite of the aggressive expansion of addictive drug using habits that are against public health, the sector is showing good results that can enables to tackle its challenges. He also said that the number of medical schools is doubled ten times in last two decades and the private sector involvement in medical service provision is also highly increasing, but; "It needs all stakeholders hard working in order to provide quality and ethical medical services for the society," Dr Gemechis stressed.

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