By: Chinonso Nwosu

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria, and it houses 116.5 million people, making it the 13th most populous country in the world.

Image/Robert Herriman

Ethiopia struggles with a host of infectious diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and several Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) namely lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis and trachoma.

According to WHO, malaria remains a public health problem in Ethiopia. Malaria morbidity has shown significant reduction over time. The number of confirmed malaria cases decreased by 47% between 2016 and 2019. Based on the HMIS reports (2016-2019), malaria related admission has significantly decreased. In particular, the decline has been significant in 2019 with 15,307 admissions down from over 30 thousand admissions in 2018.

Similarly, malaria attributed death has declined annually. Accordingly, death due to malaria has decreased by 58%, from 510 to 213 between 2016 and 2019. But, driven by the continued fallout of pandemic-related programme disruptions, armed conflict, and displacement, Ethiopia recorded a 32.5% increase in confirmed malaria cases between 2021 and 2022, from 1.1m to 1.5m. To date in 2023, reported malaria cases have increased by 150% and 120%, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2021 and 2022.

Ethiopia is also one of the 30 high burden countries for TB and HIV/AIDS in the world. There were an estimated 143,000 TB cases in the country with annual incidence 119/100000 in 2021. Ethiopia has achieved the 2020 milestone of achieving the TB incidence rate and made significant progress in reducing the TB mortality rate (19/100,000) the country has been transitioned out of the global list of high RR/MDR TB cases for year 2021-2025.

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The current prevailing drought, ongoing conflict, and huge population movement pose a substantial risk of TB transmission in the country and requires serious attention and support in addressing this key and vulnerable populations for tuberculosis. On the performance of the 95-95-95 global HIV targets, the country is lagging on the e first 95 HIV target while the second and third 95s HIV targets. are progressing very well.

Ethiopia is endemic for all five of the NTDs amenable to preventive chemotherapy through mass drug administration (MDA). In 2021, there were 31.6 million people targeted for MDA, and 24.5 million were treated for at least one NTD. Other notable NTDs that remain endemic are dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease), leishmaniasis (cutaneous and visceral), dengue, chikungunya, scabies, leprosy, and rabies.

Chinonso Nwosu is a final year veterinary medical student from Nigeria with an interest in Global Health Security. She also hosts an online series titled Zoonosis Series.