Ethiopian Medical Profession Growth

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The ratio of Ethiopian doctors has improved 3,000 percent.

Surge of Doctors and Nurses

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Within 10 years, the ratio of doctors to population in Ethiopia has improved from one physician per 30,000 people to about one physician for every 1,000 people. This East African country was loosing most of its talent to the United States.

An unexpected turning point initiated by Dr. Tedros Adhanom  provides medical certificates to graduates of government-funded medical schools. Previously, the certificates were withheld to keep doctors within the country. Additionally, the number of medical schools rocketed from three to 33 since 2006.

Trend Setters

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is one of the oldest locations of human life known to scientists. Hence, it is of funda­mental interest to anthro­polo­gists. Many praise the natural beauty of Ethiopians—women in particu­lar. You may instantly recog­nize facial fea­tures such as a high fore­head, large inset almond shaped eyes, wide mouth, and symmetri­cally ovoid head.

There is great diversity in appearance among the 13 individual regions and charted cities within the country of Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa. Depending on the region, some peoples are dark, others light, with significantly different facial beauty attributes.

Northern Ethiopians, Somalis, and Eritreans are often referred to as having a more ‘mulatto’ appearance. It is more appropriate to refer to a specific region and widen the perception of Ethiopians in general.

Map of Ethiopia
Map of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a multilingual society with around 80 ethnic groups—the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara—and about 200 dialects.

The principal Semitic lan­guage of the north-western and center of the country is Amharic, which is the lan­guage of Gondar and Gojjam, as well as much of Wollo and Shewa.

Moreover, Amharic is also the official lan­guage of administra­tion, and the lan­guage of much modern Ethiopian literature.

Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. Since Eritrea's indepen­dence, Eritrea and Ethiopia had a violent disagree­ment over the exact demarca­tion of their borders.

In May 1998, Eritrea initiated border clashes that escalated into a full-scale war that left more than 80,000 dead and further destroyed both countries’ ailing econo­mies. After a costly and bloody two-year war, a formal peace agree­ment was signed in December 2000.

Tribes

Several tribes such as the Bodi, Mursi, Karrayyu, Karo, Surma, and Suri embrace elabo­rate scari­fica­tion on the face, arms, or torso. They may be cut with sharp shells and thorns. Lip plates or earlobe dis­figure­ment popular among Ethiopian tribes occupying the Mursi and Omo River Valley is a form of beauty and strength that is being emulated in the Western world. Omo tribes are also known for their face paint­ing and head­dresses.

Various tribes carry AK-47 rifles for hunting and protection. Surrounded by more powerful and wealthier tribes, Karo have a complex social hierarchy to thwart intermarriage and keep their lineages pure.

Ethiopian tribesmen
Three Karo tribesmen with face and body decoration in chalk inspired by the spotted plumage of the guinea fowl, Omo river, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, Africa.

You may see many images of bare-chested and inten­tionally scary indigenous Ethiopian tribes. Yet, a large number wear suits, live in cities, and drive auto­mobiles in a modern society. Two popular personali­ties of Ethiopian descent are Chef Marcus Samuelsson, raised in Europe, and his lovely wife, philan­thro­pist and model, Maya Haile Samuelsson from Gurage, Ethiopia. It provides an interest­ing dichotomy to compare the Ethiopian tribes living off the land without modern conveniences.

Environment

Agriculture accounts for almost 41 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 80 percent of exports, and 80 percent of the labor force. Unsur­prising­ly there­fore, the country has both rural and urban areas.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world, registering over 10% economic growth from 2004 through 2009. Growth has decele­rated moderately, projected to be 6.5 percent in the future—reflecting weaker external demand and an increasing­ly constrained environ­ment for private sector activity.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to fill gaps in health care and respond to emergencies.

The Ethiopian constitution defines the right to own land as belonging only to “the state and the people,” but individual citizens may lease land (up to 99 years), and are unable to mortgage or sell. Inhabitants may rent land for a maximum of twenty years. This is expected to ensure that land goes to the most productive user. Population growth, migra­tion, and urbanization are all straining both govern­ments’ and ecosystems’ capacity to provide people with basic services.

In Ethiopia, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to fill gaps in healthcare and respond to emergencies such as malnutrition and disease outbreaks in both the host population and the growing refugee communities.

As we examine the diverse Ethiopian culture, we see one that is poised to become a center for medical advancement. With the changing image of Ethiopian healthcare, perhaps the global society can alter its views of this advancing nation.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate, artist, pro­gram­mer, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites. He has 17 years experi­ence as a Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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