ECSP caught up with Lisa Hymas, senior editor at Grist, last week during the first South by Southwest (SXSW) Eco conference and she spoke about her recent visit to Ethiopia to see the country’s community health extension program in action. “Ethiopia has a big challenge around population,” Hymas said, “but the government is committed to bringing that down.”
The government extension program places health-workers – young women, for the most part, who have received basic training – directly into each community, where they are able to give out immunizations, provide advice on nutrition, teach families how to properly hang bed nets to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses, and provide family planning services and advice.
Thanks to the program, these health workers and those in the communities they service can “envision very different lives for themselves than their mothers had,” Hymas explained. For instance, one woman recounted that her mother gave birth to 10 children, “and almost died giving birth to the last one, because there was no access to birth control, and there was no good access to health care.” In contrast, she is now able to have a career and to use family planning to delay and space her own childbearing.
For more on Ethiopia’s health extension program, see Schuyler Null’s report on visiting a village health clinic near the town of Fiche last spring.