Health Workers Save Lives Amid Conflict in Ethiopia

December 28, 2022
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Forced out of their homes by violent conflict in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of far western Ethiopia, approximately 12,000 people have taken refuge in the Bambassi camp for internally displaced persons where Sedalia Abdulahi works as a frontline health extension worker.

"As you can see, they fled without any belongings," says Abdulahi. "They are in a very difficult situation, especially women and children who are in critical conditions."

Working from a health post set up at the camp, Abdulahi screens children for malnutrition and provides their mothers with the Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food needed to restore their health.

Hundreds of health extension workers provide emergency care for children in Ethiopia

Abdulahi also makes monthly house-to-house visits to check on the health of children like 2-year-old Asanti.

"When she started getting sick, at first she had diarrhea, then her body started to get swollen up," says Asanti's mother, Assefu Kebede. "She was irritated and crying a lot. But now, Alhamdulillah, she is getting better, she is doing well now."

Children at the Bambassi IDP camp in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia are the first victims of the conflict that forced them to leave their homes overnight, leaving everything behind. © UNICEF/UN0723407/Pouge

UNICEF plans to reach 2.1 million women and children in Ethiopia with health care in 2023

Hundreds of health extension workers are operating in Ethiopia with support from the European Union, providing advice and assistance for pregnant women and new mothers, and essential health care services for children, including newborns. 

"Seeing children smiling and playing after getting cured from different illnesses is so rewarding and priceless," Abdulahi says.

In 2023, UNICEF plans to provide 2.1 million women and children across Ethiopia with access to primary health care. Read the Humanitarian Action for Children appeal to learn more about UNICEF Ethiopia's work in the coming year.

Help UNICEF reach more children with the support and services they urgently need. Please donate.

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Top photo: Sedalia Abdulahi, left, a health extension worker at the Bambassi IDP camp in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, visits with 2-year-old Asanti and her mother. © UNICEF. Video edited by Tong Su for UNICEF USA