May 10, 2012 | by Bill Gates
Ethiopia’s New Health System
Excerpted from Ethiopia: Exciting Innovations in Agriculture and Health
What Ethiopia is doing in health is really a model system because it reaches everyone in the country. I visited the Germana Gale Health Post, where I talked to several of the more than 30,000 health extension workers who have been trained in recent years to deliver basic health education, prevention, and treatment. Most of the health workers are women, and those I met were energetic and well-trained.
These kinds of primary health services—giving vaccines, educating women about family health, and promoting hygiene and environmental sanitation—is the foundation for building good health systems in poor countries. Ethiopia’s health system also includes district health centers like the Dalocha Health Center I visited. There, they do a little bit of surgery and have more expertise and a wider variety of drugs. There are also primary hospitals that focus on higher level treatment and some emergency surgery, and general hospitals that deal with serious emergencies and high-risk and specialized care.
Ethiopia still faces some big problems. But the people I met and what I saw re-energized me and increased my optimism that the big investments we and other donors are making in health and agriculture will pay off for the people of Ethiopia and can serve as model activities in other African countries. Improving agricultural productivity and the quality of life through better health services is the key to unleashing the potential of Ethiopia and other poor countries and getting them on the road to self-sufficiency.