Ethiopia in short

Ethiopia is one of the cradles of humanity and looks back on about 3,000 years of history. Known in late antiquity as Askum and later as the Empire of Abyssinia, it is considered the country of origin of coffee. More than 80 peoples live in the world’s most populous landlocked country, with a total of 111 million inhabitants.

B2B: Ethiopian Project - Ehiopia Info and Health Situation
Leaf from Gunda Gunde Gospels, Ethiopia prior 16th century © Wikimedia Commons, Walters Art Museum
B2B: Ethiopian Project - Ehiopia Info and Health Situation
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s lively capital, home to 5 million people

Ethiopia was never fully colonized, even during the Italian occupation of 1936-41. The country has been a strong pan-African player and supporter of anti-colonial liberation movements. That is one of the reasons why the capital Addis Ababa – “new flower” – is an important metropolis in Africa today. The African Union has its headquarters here, as well as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Five million people live in Addis Ababa.

The country is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among them the rock churches of Lalibela and the city of Harar.

Ethiopia was never fully colonized, even during the Italian occupation of 1936-41. The country has been a strong pan-African player and supporter of many anti-colonial liberation movements. That is one of the reasons why the capital Addis Ababa – “new flower” – is one of the most important metropolises in Africa today. The African Union has its headquarters here, as well as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Five million people live in Addis Ababa.

The country is home to nine fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among them the rock churches of Lalibela and the city of Harar.

B2B: Ethiopian Project - Ehiopia Info and Health Situation
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s lively capital, home to 5 million people

Ethiopia – facts and figures

Size:1,104,300 sq. km, (4.5 x Great Britain)
Border countries:Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan
Climate:tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation
Geographical terrain:high plateau, central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley
Main languages:Oromo 34%, Amharic (official national language) 29%, Somali 6%, Tigrigna 6%, Sidamo 4%, Wolaytta 2%, Gurage 2%, Afar 2%, Hadiyya 2%, other 13%, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
Religion (est.):Ethiopian Orthodox 43%, Muslim (Sunni) 31%, Protestant 23%, Catholic 1%, traditional 1%, other 1%
Age structure (est.):0-14 years: 40%; 15-24 years: 19%; 25-54 years: 33; 55-64 years: 4%; 65 years +: 3%
Life expectancy (est.):male 66 years; female 70 years
Form of government:Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, federal parliamentary republic, parliament/ Council of People’s Deputies with max. 550 members, elected every 5 years
Administrative divisions:9 regions, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa with special status
Employment in:agriculture 68%, industry 10%, service sector 22
Export partners (2019):China 17%, United States 16%, United Arab Emirates 8%, Saudi Arabia 6%, South Korea 5%, Germany 5%
GDP per capita (est.):$2,221
Literacy of total population:52%
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:25%

Source: Worldbank | Gov. of Ethiopia | UN as of Apr. 23 2021

Ethiopia’s Health Extension Program

B2B: Ethiopian Project - Ehiopia Info and Health Situation
Medical treatment in Ethiopia © GIZ/Michael Tsegay

Ethiopia has established a health care system based on primary health centers, clinics, and hospitals. All major cities have hospitals with specialized physicians. However, most of the hospitals in the country are in the capital Addis Ababa, where a high share of Ethiopia’s medical doctors live and work. In contrast, access to modern health care is limited in many rural areas. This is where around 80 percent of the population lives and make their living with many working in farming.

In 2003, Ethiopia started to build its Health Extension Program (HEP). The government trained tens of thousands of Health Extension Workers (HEW) and assigned them to primary health care units (PHCU). Today more than 42,000 government-salaried female HEWs are deployed in the country, particularly in rural areas. They are assigned to health posts, in villages (“kebele”) with populations ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 inhabitants. Five health posts and a health center work in collaboration and form the PHCU that serves around 25,000 people.

The results have been very positive: A survey undertaken by the University of Queensland, Australia, and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium, sees “significant improvements in health outcomes during the era of the Millennium Development Goals.” In summary, “there was a 67% reduction in under-five mortality; a 71% decline in maternal mortality ratio; a 90% decline in new HIV infections; a decrease in malaria-related deaths by 73%; and a more than 50% decline” in mortality due to Tuberculosis between 1990 and 2015. The Health Extension Program “has enabled Ethiopia to achieve significant improvements in maternal and child health, communicable diseases, hygiene and sanitation, knowledge and health care seeking.”  

Although the health-related problems in Ethiopia are still substantial in comparison to western standards, the country has become a benchmark for many African countries over the last decade. Many delegations from Sub-Saharan countries travel to Ethiopia to get to know more about its health care policy and the Health Extension Program. B2B: Ethiopian Project - Ehiopia Info and Health Situation

Health in Ethiopia –
facts and figures

Health expenditure (2018):3.3% of the GDP (France 11.3%)
Physician density (2018):0.08 physicians/1,000 population (Greece 5.5)
Hospital bed density (2016):0.3 beds/1,000 population (Ukraine 7.5)
Underweight children under the age of 5 years (2019):21.1%
Access to safe drinking water:57% of population
Access to improved sanitation:28% nationwide

Major infectious diseases –
very high degree of risk in 2020

Food or waterborne diseases:bacterial and protozoal diarrhoea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vector borne diseases:malaria and dengue fever
Water contact diseases:schistosomiasis
Animal contact diseases:rabies
Respiratory diseases:meningococcal meningitis

Sources: Assefa et al. Globalization and Health (2019) | WHO | UN | USAID | Gov. of Ethiopia