The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major health, social and economic impact on countries and communities around the globe. For Ethiopia, already tackling outbreaks of cholera, measles and malaria, the pandemic risks overwhelming the country’s already overstretched health system. As in all countries facing this outbreak and its tragic consequences, Ethiopia’s heroic healthcare staff have been put under increasing strain due to limited resources and inadequate facilities.
Recognising Ethiopia’s uphill challenge and the need for global solidarity in the face of the outbreak, the European Union rapidly mobilised €10 million to support the Government’s Preparedness and Response Plan to the pandemic, together with another €15 million in health sector budget support to strengthen the country’s health facilities and save lives.
This EU support for the Ministry of Health and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute aimed to increase the number of Covid-19 diagnostic laboratories and test kits, improve health facilities’ readiness for Covid-19 case management, and strengthen resource mobilisation efforts. In March, the Ministry of Health started testing with a single PCR machine. Now, thanks to EU and other partners’ support, 27 Covid-19 diagnostic laboratories have been established with the necessary test kits, reagents and related supplies. This has allowed healthcare staff to work in improved conditions and provide the necessary care for their patients.
As a result, the testing capacity has increased to more than 5,000 per day, with a total of 116,309 laboratory tests conducted so far. Health facilities’ capacity and readiness has increased and currently a total of 87 quarantine centres, 98 isolation centres, and 41 treatment centres have been established across the country, including the Millennium Hall conference centre in Addis Ababa. With EU support, the Ministry of Health has also developed a Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, with an estimated budget of $430 million. Over half of that amount – around $235 million – has already been committed, both from domestic and external sources.
Covid-19 and its impact on communities, families and entire societies has shown that no one is safe unless everyone is safe. The European Union is proud to work together with our international partners to take on the challenges that the pandemic has presented to us all.