© Matthias Steinbach


MSF responds to outbreaks of disease and fills gaps in basic and emergency healthcare

Situated in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is the most populated landlocked country in the world with a population of over 90 million.

Unlike most other African countries, Ethiopia has maintained its freedom from colonial rule apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini's Italy in 1936-41. It was a founder member of the United Nations.

After a series of famines in the 1980s, the country has begun to recover and is now the largest economy in East and Central Africa.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Ethiopia in 1984.

Our work in the country involves responding to armed conflict and endemic/epidemic disease.

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MSF’s work in Ethiopia: 2016

Diseases such as kala azar are endemic in Ethiopia. In 2016, we continued to fill healthcare gaps and respond to emergencies and the needs of the growing refugee population.

Somali region


In Wardher hospital and other health facilities in Danod and Yucub districts, our teams provide both inpatient and outpatient services, including primary and reproductive healthcare, and treatment for malnutrition and tuberculosis (TB).

In 2016, in partnership with the Regional Health Bureau, we treated around 45,000 patients.

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Throughout the year, Dolo Ado reception centre saw 3,075 new arrivals, mostly women and children. The team offers free basic healthcare, nutritional support and routine immunisations. Basic healthcare is also available at three health posts we manage in Buramino and Hiloweyn camps.

Another team works in the health centre in Dolo Ado town, which is the referral point for the refugees as well as local people.

The health centre has an emergency room, maternity and paediatric units, an operating theatre and X-ray facilities, and runs nutrition and TB programmes.  By the end of 2016, there were over 203,887 Somali refugees in five camps in Liben zone.


Teams based at the local district hospital of Fik, in central Somali Region, work in the emergency room, operating theatre, maternity ward and stabilisation centre for severely malnourished children.

We also support a TB treatment programme and donate drugs and basic medical instruments to the hospital.


In Degehabur, we provides maternal health services, including ante- and postnatal care, family planning and treatment for sexual and gender-based violence.

We also helped to set up inpatient and outpatient departments, the emergency room and a stabilisation centre for severely malnourished children with medical complications in Degehabur hospital.

Gambella region

Gambella region hosts more than 340,000 South Sudanese refugees from the civil war that began in 2013.

In collaboration with the government and UNHCR, we provide basic and secondary health services in the health centres in Kule and Pugnido camps and Pugnido town, and health posts in Kule and Tierkidi.

These services include paediatric care, surgery, nutritional support and HIV/AIDS treatment and are available for both refugees and the local communities.

Another team runs a regular mobile clinic for refugees at the entry point of Pagak. In 2016, we offered basic medical assistance to 264,000 refugees and local residents, 31 percent of whom were children under the age of five.

Amhara region

Our main focus in Amhara region is the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), which is endemic in Ethiopia, especially in the north. MSF provides screening and treatment for kala azar patients co-infected with HIV and/or TB, and efforts so far have resulted in a significant decrease in transmission and infection rates. The team in Amhara also offers treatment for snakebites and support to emergency referrals. 

Tigray region

In collaboration with the Ethiopian authorities, we provide mental healthcare for some 6,200 Eritrean refugees in Shimelba and Hitsats camps in Tigray region. In 2016, the team assisted 3,435 refugees through outpatient and inpatient consultations.

Emergency responses

We responded to the 2015-16 drought by conducting nutrition assessments, in collaboration with local and federal authorities, in two districts in Amhara region, one district in Dire Dawa city and two districts in Oromia region.

Based on the findings of the assessments, two interventions were launched in Oromia, in Aseko and Babile districts. In Aseko, nearly 4,800 children with moderate acute malnutrition received supplementary food, and 160 children with severe acute malnutrition were referred to therapeutic feeding programmes. In Babile, MSF-supported local health teams to screen and treat around 300 malnourished children.

Acute watery diarrhoea

Since March 2016, we have been collaborating with Ethiopian authorities to respond to outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea in many parts of the country, including the capital Addis Ababa, Oromia region and Somali region. Teams also assisted with training, construction of temporary treatment centres, and water and sanitation.

Find out more in our International Activity Report

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