News / Africa

Ethiopia Introduces Health-Care Phone Service

Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009. (file photo)Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009. (file photo)
x
Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009. (file photo)
Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009. (file photo)
— Ethiopia is launching medical services over the phone. A young Ethiopian doctor is starting the service in an attempt to improve access to health care across the country.
 
"HelloDoctor" is Ethiopia’s first general medical hotline, in which a small fee is taken from a person’s mobile phone credit to receive medical advice or request home-care service.
 
Dr. Yohans Wodaje is the young Ethiopian doctor who founded HelloDoctor. He said that healthcare services for the average Ethiopian will improve through the new service, as there are not enough doctors and clinics for the whole population.
 
“Despite the huge improvement that Ethiopia made in the past 10 years regarding health coverage in its attempt to make universal basic health coverage a reality of the Ethiopian people, there are still many big challenges," he said. "And you have a very few number of highly skilled, highly specialized professionals, then you definitely need to link technology with those professionals to multiply the effect that they would have.”

Phone consultations

Getting medical advice by phone has happened in the United States, Canada, Australia and more recently also in parts of Latin America and Asia. A common question about the practice is whether doctors can give adequate advice without seeing the patient.
 
Wodaje agreed that face-to-face consultations are preferable. He said, though, that it is not always realistic in Ethiopia.
 
“We opt for phone-based consultations in situations, especially if you have to travel long distances to get to a health facility, if you have to wait in long lines to get to a health professional," he said. "And also, the professionals you need may not always be of the level that is required to help you.”
 
An average conversation lasts four minutes and costs about $2, which is still a lot of money for most Ethiopians. But a visit to a clinic, including transportation costs when living outside the city, usually adds up to $15.

Physicians prepared

The doctors working for the service are mostly in their late 20s. It provides them with extra employment, something the government might welcome because many doctors today pursue careers abroad.
 
Anteneh Kassahun plans to become one of the doctors for the service.  He feels it gives him more opportunities.
 
“The first thing is, we will help our country, especially those who live in rural areas, they don’t get doctors. So when they need the health information they can call us and right away we will support them," said Kassahun. "The second thing is we have jobs in different hospitals and clinics, so we do it in our free time. The third thing is we get other training, especially how to talk to people, how to communicate with people and other things. And the fourth thing is we get extra money.”

Vast medical need

The Ethiopian government has employed 10 times as many health extension workers in recent years, but there is still a long way to go before everybody in the country can easily access health care.  

Ahmed Emano of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health said that Ethiopia needs the involvement of private initiatives to improve health-care services in the country.

“If you take the private clinics in Addis Ababa, there are 2,015 health services in Addis Ababa only. From this, about 60 percent - more than 60 percent - are private services," said Emano. "So the government is already supporting all private partners and we establish public-private partnership with private service givers, so especially when we say the high level and some specialized services, we give support to private people who can afford to establish this type of services in the country.”

The World Health Organization recommends that in any country there should be no less than one doctor for every 10,000 citizens. Ethiopia currently has one doctor employed for every 33,500 people.
 
The pressure on health services in Ethiopia is due to increase as the population - now at 85 million - continues growing rapidly. Also, people in rural areas generally lack access to health care, and 84 percent of Ethiopians live in the rural parts of the country.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid