Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in Africa. It is located on the horn of Africa and has the second largest population on the continent, after Nigeria. At the end of 2017, Ethiopia’s population was estimated at 106,518,674; this represents an increase of 32.8 million people compared to 2007. Ethiopia shows a moderate population density with 85 people per square km, which makes Ethiopia 102th in population density. 43.7% of Ethiopia’s population is less than 15 years old, indicating a rapid population growth rate. The average age of first time mothers is 19.6 years.
Ethiopia’s health care system is among the least developed in Sub-Saharan Africa and is not at present able to effectively cope with the significant health problems facing the country. The major health problems of the country remain largely preventable communicable diseases and nutritional disorders. Despite major progress that has been made to improve the health status of the population in the last two decades, Ethiopia’s population still faces a high rate of morbidity and mortality and the health status remains relatively poor. Like people living in other African countries, most Ethiopians experience lack of clean drinking water. These health problems are exacerbated by the shortage of trained manpower and health facilities. Ethiopia has only 2.6 medical doctors per 100,000 people. Addressing this shortage of healthcare personnel, specifically, physicians, has become one of the major strategies of the Ethiopian government for improving health.
While the shortage and high turnover of human resources account for some healthcare problems, inadequacy of essential drugs and supplies has also contributed to the burden of human suffering. In addition, wide spread poverty, poor nutritional status, low education levels and poor access to health services have contributed to the high burden of ill health in the country. Life expectancy at birth is currently about 54 years and is expected to decline to 46 years if the present HIV infection rates are maintained. According to government statistics, 3.5 percent of the population in the age group of 15-49 in 2005 were reported to have HIV/AIDS. Malaria is the primary health problem in the country; it is the leading cause of outpatient visits and is responsible for 8 to 10 million annual clinical cases and a significant number of deaths. In total, as much as 80 percent of the health problems in the country are due to preventable communicable and nutritional diseases; socioeconomic development is a key factor in improving these health concerns.