Poor health conditions and lack of facilities in his village inspired Dr. Bekalu T. Wubshet to pursue a career in medicine.  He wanted to make a difference.

Health care in Ethiopia has undergone vast transformation in the last 20 years. The child mortality rate has dropped by nearly a third, and more than 35,000 health workers – many of them women – are bringing services to the country’s highly populated rural areas. 
“These health extension workers are significant in the community because we have the health posts there in the village,” Wubshet explained.  
“They are making a significant improvement because they are more focused on prevention.” 
Wubshet is a general practitioner at Bahir Dar University College of Medicine and Health Science. While he believes that Ethiopia still lags behind other countries in many ways, he points with pride to new hospitals and a growing emphasis on specialized care and the treatment of metabolic and chronic illnesses.   
Ethiopia has an average of one physician for every 20,000 people, Wabshet said, a figure that is a substantial improvement . Another area that is developing: more women graduating from medical school. 
“Consider 10 to 15 years back, you may have one female medical student out of 50 or 100. Now in some schools we are having like a 50:50 ratio,” Wubshet said. “In our university, this year we are graduating about 57 medical doctors. Out of that, I think there will be eight female medical doctors.”

Dr. Mekonnen Aychiluhim is one of the founders of Gamby College of Medical Science in Bahir Dar, established 17 years ago by Aychiluhim and several of his friends from medical school. Their shared vision was to enable Ethiopians to have healthy, productive lives, by creating medical facilities that include schools to teach doctors and health personnel to help communities prevent and treat illnesses and diseases.

They started with a small clinic and one nurse. Now, they have an 11,000-square-feet facility, with a teaching general hospital and 700 students on the Bahir Dar campus, a 70-bed hospital, and an outpatient program treating 200 new patients each day.

Gamby offers certificate programs for nurses, midwives, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians;  master’s degrees in nursing, midwifery, pharmacy and public health; and a medical school to train doctors.

The hospital is the first in the region to offer renal dialysis, CT scans and the international standard Doppler ultrasound, Aychiluhim said.  It works with the Smile Trains international charity to provide free surgery for people with cleft palate and lips.

The hospital also participates in national campaigns to provide counseling and free testing for patients with HIV, and to offer free surgeries for mothers who have uterine prolapse, a condition where the womb collapses through the birth canal. Aychiluhim said this is a problem in Ethiopia for older women who have given birth to many children.

Poor health conditions and lack of facilities in his village inspired Dr. Bekalu T. Wubshet to pursue a career in medicine.  He wanted to make a difference.

Health care in Ethiopia has undergone vast transformation in the last 20 years. The child mortality rate has dropped by nearly a third, and more than 35,000 health workers – many of them women – are bringing services to the country’s highly populated rural areas.

“These health extension workers are significant in the community because we have the health posts there in the village,” Wubshet explained.  “They are making a significant improvement because they are more focused on prevention.”

Wubshet is a general practitioner at Bahir Dar University College of Medicine and Health Science. While he believes that Ethiopia still lags behind other countries in many ways, he points with pride to new hospitals and a growing emphasis on specialized care and the treatment of metabolic and chronic illnesses, some xxxx.

Ethiopia has an average of one physician for every 20,000 people, Wabshet said, a figure that is a substantial improvement over the ratio some years ago. Another area that is developing: more women graduating from medical school.

“Consider 10 to 15 years back, you may have one female medical student out of 50 or 100. Now in some schools we are having like a 50:50 ratio,” Wubshet said. “In our university, this year we are graduating about 57 medical doctors. Out of that, I think there will be eight female medical doctors.”

Lacey Russell contributed to this article.

Fistula Hospital

Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa was the first facility in the world for the treatment and prevention of obstetric fistulas. The condition occurs when a pregnant woman in labor does not get a Caesarean section when she needs it. Her pelvis may be too small, the baby is badly positioned, or its head is too big. Underlying causes include childbearing at too early an age, poverty, malnutrition and lack of education. The hospital also trains midwives to work in rural Ethiopia.

Gates Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested more than $265 million in Ethiopia to organizations operating health and development programs. That includes money to help small farmers increase food production, as well as grants to expand access to childhood vaccines, maternal and child health programs, financial services for the poor, and for safe water and sanitation.

Ethiopia also benefits indirectly from the foundation’s investments in global partner organizations. The foundation made its first program investments in Ethiopia in 2000, and since then has made more than 125 grants to partner organizations that are either working in Ethiopia or conducting research and development designed to benefit Ethiopia.

In 2014, Bill Gates teamed up with John Green, the author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” to help Ethiopia find solutions for safe water.  In a blog about his trip to Ethiopia with Gates, Green said: “It became clear to me that the Gates Foundation fundamental principle that all human lives have value isn’t just rhetoric.”