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Young Ethiopian Health Extension Workers aid thier people

Tigrai Online
April. 23 2011

Tigrai Online - Aynalem Taye, Ethiopian Health Extension Worker The majority of Ethiopia's population live in rural areas and when they are ill many do not seek medical advice, but a new government programme hopes to change this at a local level. Eynalem Taye is 23-years-old, but her tiny frame makes her look like a slight teenager.

She sits confidently in the single-storey building she shares with another young woman health worker. She does not wear a uniform, save for a bright blue watch marked with a tiny Ethiopian flag and the words "Health Extension Worker" which denote that she is now qualified.

To get to this remote health post I drive out into the countryside, past rows of billy cans filled with water, suspended in wickerwork bags ready to sell to passing truck drivers.

Then hundreds of tropical plants lined up in plastic bags in what appear to be miles and miles of garden centres next to each other along the roadside.

High school students stream past in school uniforms in a shade of mauve exactly matching the blossom on the jacaranda trees. Not daunted

Further out into the countryside the land is flat and dry and on the right, set back from the road, is a building all on its own - Eynalem's health post. Eynalem is not a doctor, nor a nurse and she has had just had one year's training as a health extension worker.

The emphasis, she tells me, is on prevention. She gives tests for HIV-Aids and tuberculosis, and treats malaria as well as offering antenatal care.

For more complex ailments she can refer patients on to a larger clinic, still without any doctors, but where some surgery can be done.

Every inch of wall space here is covered with posters charting the successes of Eynalem and her colleague. She is clearly very proud of her health post and apologises for the piles of supplies which have just been delivered.