Background to the Healthcare System in Ethiopia

Most health facilities in Ethiopia are government owned, and access to modern healthcare is very limited. In fact hospitals with full-time physicians are found only in major cities, with most being located in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s healthcare system suffered enormously in the 70s and 80s as doctors emigrated or simply failed to return from specialized training abroad. Today, whilst things have stabilised politically and economically there is still a trend towards newly qualified medical staff emigrating. As a result, output is still not meeting the rising demand for healthcare. Shortages of equipment and drugs further aggravate the situation.

In the absence of doctors and nurses qualified in modern medicine, people rely on traditional healing methods and ‘medicine men’. Such practices are widespread, particularly in rural areas where access to healthcare is virtually non-existent.

Infant mortality stands at almost twice that of the world average. Other common health concerns include maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis, diarrheal diseases, and HIV/ AIDS.

What does the Lalibela New Life Medical Centre do?

The World Health Organisation has identified that poverty and environmental factors are major contributors to death, disease and disability in many parts of the world. Indeed, the seed that was sown in the creation of this charitable cause, was a young man whose life lay in the balance for no other reason than a simple snake bite and a lack of financial resources to have it treated.

The Lalibela New Life Medical Centre was established to put an end to such avoidable suffering.

The Medical Centre provides for both in-patient and out-patient treatment and is open to anyone in need of medical support. Specifically, it is a first port of call for people in Lalibela and surrounding villages, requiring medical, nursing and maternity care. These are typically poor farming families. The nearest main hospital is 140 miles away.

Medical and nursing treatments are provided by qualified nursing and medical professionals, offering:

  • medical and nursing care for the treatment of illness and disability;
  • maternal care and family planning advice; and
  • an education service to promote awareness of the prevention of disease.

Medical care is provided in line with the patient’s ability to pay. In this way, the very poor are able to access free medical and nursing care, maternity services, and education about self-care protocols.