Overcoming Obstacles to Accessing Mental Health Services in Ethiopia

Malik JafferThis post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

“What do you see as one major obstacle to people seeking treatment that may be needed, and what advice or suggestion do you have to help overcome that obstacle, whether for the person, family member, or practitioner?”

That was the main question posed to panelists at the Ethiopian Global Initiative’s Ethiopia Public Health Forum, the focus of which was “Beyond the Stigma of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.” On June 1, I attended this forum as a representative of IntraHealth International. Read more »

A Successful Initiative for Health Workforce Development in Ethiopia

Sarah DwyerMental health is not always on the forefront of people’s minds when they think about global health and the critical shortage of trained health workers. But the need is there.

In Ethiopia, Dr. Markos Tesfaye recalls a “huge mental health professional deficit.” He is head of the department of psychiatry in the College of Public Health and Medical Sciences at Jimma University. In 2007, he says, “there were only 28 psychiatrists in the country for a population of about 80 million.” Complicating matters, he recalls, “psychiatry nurses who had advanced diploma-level education were shifting to do their degree in general nursing because of lack of opportunities to advance their career in the field of mental health.” Read more »

Model Families to Model Country: Community Workers Help Scale Up Ethiopia’s Health Program

Mesrak BelatchewIn a typical farmhouse scenario, families live in single-room homes—made of straw, wood, and mud—together with their cattle and other animals. They cook in the same room and do not have latrines or isolated waste disposal facilities. However, Ethiopia’s “model families”—a cornerstone of the country’s successful Health Extension Program (HEP)—build separate kitchens, arrange a place for their cattle outside the family tukul, and dig latrines.

Empowering families with healthy behaviors
Training model families is one of the HEP’s important strategies, and is adapted from Paul Lazarsfeld’s and Everett Rogers’ theories of mass communication and diffusion of innovation. Read more »

Leading the Way: The Health Workforce's Role in Country Ownership

Mesrak BelatchewCountry ownership—defined by the Paris declaration on aid effectiveness and the Accra agenda for action—is achieved when countries exercise effective leadership over their development policies, strategies, and actions. This is particularly visible when countries then translate these policies into prioritized operational programs.

For example, Ethiopia—as well as Rwanda, Malawi, and others—has shown marked improvement in expanding health services to the population and deploying health workers to rural communities. It’s also important that countries coordinate aid levels in conjunction with other development resources—in dialogue with donors—and encourage civil society and private sector participation. Read more »

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