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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs