Whilst Ethiopia’s health status remains poor in comparison to a number of other low-income countries, it was amongst the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa that achieved a number of its health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. Life expectancy at birth has increased from 46.7 years in 1990 to 64 years in 2013. Between 1990 and 2010, the years of life lost due to premature mortality from measles and diarrhoeal diseases decreased by 86% and 52%, respectively. As a consequence, Ethiopia has achieved the target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. It has also met the targets for reducing the burden of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis through prevention and treatment interventions.
Many cite the unprecedented expansion of its primary health care system as a key factor in Ethiopia’s relative progress. However, health service utilisation has not significantly improved and identifying and addressing the factors that determine household demand for health services is necessary. These factors may include income, cost of care, education, social norms and traditions, and the quality and appropriateness of the services provided.
FHS Extension Phase
During its extension phase, Future Health Systems’ work is focusing on understanding the socio-cultural determinants of demand for primary health care in Ethiopia; what interventions are in place to increase demand; and how well are these working? With FHS’ consortium-wide interest in community engagement, the review is also seeking to understand what role community involvement has in improving service utilisation.
Drawing on the evidence and learning from this review, FHS will be engaging policymakers in Ethiopia through a policy dialogue to inform government strategies strengthen demand for health services.