Ethiopia: Free Medical Care for Migrants in New IOM Ethiopia Partnership

Mohammed Adem suffered kidney failure while working as an irregular migrant in Sanaa, Yemen in 2018, forcing him to return to Ethiopia. He was supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, which also organized his medical treatment as part of his reintegration process.

Mohammed now needs regular dialysis to stay alive. And, thanks to a new partnership between the EU-IOM Joint Initiative and St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical Collage, he now can access life-saving treatment. The partnership allows migrant returnees with medical to receive treatment at St. Paul's at no cost. Before, IOM referred returnees to various private hospitals.

"I had to spend close to $3,500, all the money I earned from working at a vegetable farm, to get treatment in Yemen. I was left with nothing," Mohammed explained. "My friends told me about IOM and the support I could get."

To access dialysis treatment Mohammed has had to stay at IOM's Transit Centre in Addis Ababa, where he has been for over a year. Co-funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, the centre provides temporary accommodation, meals, counselling, and assists returnees going back to their communities of origin.

Such support is crucial for Mohammed and others like him. He comes from a community over 150km from Addis Ababa where there no dialysis treatment is available. Where dialysis is available, the treatment is unaffordable for most Ethiopians in similar situations, costing over USD 1,200 per month.

Which means migrant returnees with access to free medical treatment from St. Paul's Hospital is a boon. Since March 2017, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has provided basic medical assistance to some 1,500 returnees at the Addis Ababa transit centre. More than 260 returnees with severe medical conditions were referred to specialised hospitals.

The hospital has faced shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Our stock was very limited, lasting for only two weeks. St. Paul's Hospital was established to serve the underserved community and this partnership is a perfect fit to respond to migrant returnees with medical needs," said the hospital's director, Dr Wondimagegn Gezahegn.

A donation made to St. Pauls Hospital of medical consumables worth over USD 21,000 has strengthened the institution at a time when it suffers from supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Mohammed and others like him feel fortunate to be getting care. But more resources are required to meet the medical needs of returning migrants, particularly in the face of COVID-19. IOM in the region is appealing for USD71.6 million to meet the needs of migrants affected by COVID-19, including health requirements.

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