Ethiopia’s lessons from COVID-19

Editor’s note:

Here is the view from there Foresight Africa 2023 This report explores the region’s top priorities for the coming the whole chapter health.

As we enter 2023, the world is still grappling with the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back, the pandemic has tested Ethiopia’s healthcare system like no other in recent history, amplifying its existing strengths and weaknesses. The crisis has also presented an opportunity to rebuild our systems based on new insights gleaned from our response to a once-in-a-generation pandemic.

I was Appointed Minister of Health of Ethiopia 70 days after the first case was detected in Wuhan, the day our country’s health system detected the first COVID-19 case in the country. A few months after this, I noticed a significant drop in access to critical health services such as vaccines, prenatal care and HIV care. The ministry’s identification and recognition of this alarming trend was made possible through the district medical information system. This will allow health authorities to plan and implement mitigation measures, including non-visit visits through teleconsultation. Dispensing over multiple months. and strong and effective community monitoring. These measures have made Ethiopia the maintain essential medical services during a pandemic.

However, there were also pitfalls and lessons for improvement. Despite the government’s swift response, the health system was aware of only a fraction of the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19. Expansion of test venues You can go from zero to 85 in less than 6 months. During the first few months, we implemented strict public health and social distancing measures that are globally recommended and adopted by many countries in the region. Travelers, contacts and suspects were quarantined in health facilities, schools and other public facilities, and all positive cases were admitted. In retrospect, by the time we were implementing these interventions, the community had already spread, and our responses were ineffective and not very appropriate during the outbreak phase. . We also quickly realized that without the physical infrastructure and resources needed to quarantine thousands of people, a shift in policy was needed.

Looking ahead to 2023, I single out two priority investment areas needed to build more resilient systems that are better equipped to deal with future health shocks.

Investing in health information systems that generate individual-level patient data should be a priority in 2023. This will support critical registration efforts, enable contact tracing, assess quality of care, and provide near real-time outcome data to guide the health system evidence-based.

Investing in a strong primary health care (PHC) that provides a diverse range of care. Ethiopia has prioritized investments in PHC, but so far most of these investments have been limited to the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases and maternal and child diseases, and have expanded to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It was only recently. However, to effectively respond to future epidemics, our PHC must be capable of addressing broader health challenges such as his NCDs, mental health and emergencies. The benefits of supporting the community through door-to-door monitoring by medical extension workers were also valuable lessons for continuing to invest in community health for her strong PHC.

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