Strong need for health centers!
Ethiopia is a country with a population of 105 million. Almost 50% of the population is younger than 18 years. It is a beautiful country, but health care is poorly organized. The number of doctors per person is worryingly low (1 on 36,000) and many doctors work in expensive private clinics. Hospitals run by the government have a bad reputation. For the poor, access to basic health care has always been absent and the situation seems to worsen even more.
The organization TTAF feels the need to address this issue and has set the goal to realize a number of ‘Health Centers’ in the region south of the capital Addis Abeba. TTAF has been active for 15 years in the same region in organizing programs that support the poor with micro-financing, education for the blind and providing small medical procedures. TTAF knows the needs of the local people.
In Ethiopia two local projectmanagers are employed by TTAF: Ayano Burka and Zenebe Ayele. They are involved in establishing the Health Centers, that will operate under the name of ‘Burka Faya Health Center’. Burka Faya is Amharic for ‘source of health’. A very appealing name for an Ethiopier! The first clinic will be located in Sashamene.
Reasons to start in Sashamene
Sashamene is located a few hundred miles south of Addis Abeba in the Oromia region. The location and the infrastructure make it easily accessible from all corners of region. With a population of almost 3 million, it is one of the most densely populated areas in Oromia. The whole area only has four public hospitals and two private hospitals. The need for adequate health care is high and cannot be met on a short term.
TTAF is well aware of the situation in Sashamene, because TTAF organizes each year so called eye-missions (medical missions with focus on eye problems) in this region. Also Ayano Burka has lived there in the past few years, giving him valuable contacts with the municipality and the local people.
A clinic providing first aid
A Health Center is similar to a General Practice, where first aid can be provided. There are six beds available and facilities for women in labor. The Center will be managed by a professional and experience doctor.
The Health Center focusses on the following aspects:
- General care; daily consults, prescribing medicine, small medical procedures
- Care for mother and child; assistance for pregnant women + childbirths
- Eye-treatment; blindness is a common issue (cataract surgery is very effective)
- Treatment of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; TBC is a common and lethal disease.
Free healthcare for the poorest
The Health Center has the objective to treat 20%-25% of the patients free of charge, in order to make health care accessible to the poorest. Free of charge means that they, like every other patient, have to pay a small registration fee, but that the consults, medical exams and lab-tests are all for free. Selecting the poorest is fairly simple, because the Ethiopian government already provides this group with a special “pass” that gives them free access to certain basic facilities.
I’m especially moved by the great number of young girls that get pregnant, drop out of school, live on the streets and get socially isolated. That is a big problem in this region. With the right means and clear information-sessions we hope to address this problem. Ayano
Partnering with the local community and institutions
The local community is involved in the development of the Health Center. The local people requested support of the plan from the local government. The mayor of Sashamene is personally involved, because of this request. In the Health Center surgery is not possible for example. That is why partnering with the other healthcare institutions is of great importance. Burka Faya has already made connections with the following: the local public hospital of Sashamene, the Grarbet Hospital in Ziway (eye clinic) and Batujera and with Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.
Investment and runningcosts
To realize such a clinic, a substantial investment is needed. The idea is that TTAF together with its donors will take care of the investment capital necessary to establish a Health Center. After a short start-up phase the Health Center should generate enough income to be financially self-sustaining. This is not merely wishful-thinking, but has been empirically tested. Ayano Burka owns a similar clinic in the region Kofele. This clinic is operational since 2013 and even makes a profit. The costs for realization will be around $ 740,000. $ 340,000 is already committed.
The clinic will be managed professionally and will have a large impact on a number of different areas. Better accessibility: hundred thousand people will benefit from a clinic that is much closer in proximity. Many patients are not able to cover great distances; they have no modern means of travel. Better access to medicine: due to a lack of well-managed medicine stocks, many of the existing healthcare centers have large deficits of medicine. Better preventive action: a clear example is prevention of Trachoma. It is a common eye condition that can lead to blindness. Good hygiene and awareness (flyers) these conditions can easily be prevented.
Unique Selling Points of Burka Faya Health Center
- financially self-sustaining business model
- profit is invested in scaling up the program
- 20-25% of the patients receive healthcare free of charge