On average, every 12th Ethiopian child dies before turning five. (WHO, 2011) For the rural population diarrhoea, malaria, parasites and infections are amongst the most common health problems.
The reasons for this concern many areas of life:
- Dirty, contaminated water causing disease
- Lack of clean water for regular washing
- Malnutrition or an unbalanced diet
- Bad sanitary conditions
- Lack of information about the prevention or treatment of diseases
- Inadequate or unavailable health care
Simple hygiene measures or access to clean drinking water can prevent many diseases. Such as diarrhoea which is particularly dangerous for small children, or the eye infection trachoma. Untreated, this insidious disease can lead to incurable blindness. At the start of our work in the project regions Ginde Beret and Abune Ginde Beret about half the children under the age of ten were affected by trachoma. This is why, when it comes to healthcare, the training of skilled personnel and the provision information to the population are of particular importance.
In addition, we apply the following measures to improve healthcare and the general well-being of the people in the project regions:
- Hygiene and health courses
- Implementation of campaigns for personal hygiene at schools
- Introduction of pit latrines and other hygiene measures
- Construction and equipment of hospitals, health stations and polyclinics
- Equipment of health stations with solar powered refrigerators
- Allocation of ambulance cars for emergency transfers
- Support for the implementation of vaccination programmes, e.g. EPI (Expanded Program on Immunization of the World Health Organisation) vaccination programme for children, vaccination programmes for women (e.g. tetanus)
- Distribution of iodine tablets against goitre
- Parasite treatment (deworming)
- Eye treatment and surgeries, e.g. cataract or trachoma
- Large-scale campaign following the WHO’s SAFE approach to combat trachoma in Ginde Beret and Abune Ginde Beret
- HIV / AIDS awareness, distribution of condoms, tests and counselling
- Awareness courses and offers for family planning
Comparable to the construction of schools, regional authorities are also expected to meet their responsibilities in the area of health care. The health programme of Menschen für Menschen aims at the permanent improvement of the public health care system in the project regions. Health posts and centres are built and equipped, extended or renovated in coordination with public planning. Health authorities commit to operate these facilities after the project has been completed.
Training of medical staff
Advanced trainings conducted by Menschen für Menschen and dealing with HIV prevention, vaccine protection, hygiene, prevention of harmful traditions, secure obstetrics, infant welfare, eye health and more are aimed at medical and paramedical staff such as nurses, health advisors and traditional midwives. Public immunisation services are supported with transport aid, the family planning offer with professionals and advanced trainings, eye surgeries are performed by trained employees of Menschen für Menschen or travelling medical specialists.
Bringing information to the villages
This measures for the development and improvement of public healthcare are embedded into numerous other activities for the information and awareness-raising of the population, for instance in the scope of welfare work in villages and schools. Topics are for example: the importance of hygiene for the prevention of infections and parasitic diseases, the importance of clean drinking water and the benefits of latrines, sustaining eye health, advantages and methods of family planning, malaria prophylaxis methods, protection against HIV infection and the purpose of HIV tests.