The year 2020 was characterised by the Covid-19 pandemic, causing restrictions on movement and reduced availability of air flights, which in the first phase resulted in a major reduction in the presence of our operators at Wolisso Hospital, where it wasn’t until August that international staff were restored to support critical services, such as internal medicine and paediatrics. Moreover, as in many countries, the effects of the restrictions in Ethiopia meant admissions to the hospital were significantly reduced, resulting in reduced revenue. The challenging financial situation had to be addressed through the use of extraordinary aid, which was made available to support the wage increase for health workers as decided by the country’s health authorities. Despite these difficult circumstances, in 2020 the new neonatology department at Wolisso Hospital was completed. The effects of the pandemic have also been felt, albeit to a lesser extent, in the other more isolated regions where Doctors with Africa CUAMM operates, which faced difficulties in implementing activities on schedule.
In South Omo Zone, the maternal and child health intervention continued, with support for Jinka Hospital and Turmi Hospital. In the Gambella region, the project to reduce unequal access to health services, particularly for mothers and children ended at the end of the year in the Gambella region, and work continued for South Sudanese refugees at the Nguenyyiel camp to improve infrastructure, equipment, staff training and the referral system. Project activities continued to develop national neonatal intensive care guidelines, and improved diabetes services in 15 national hospitals in partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Society of Paediatrics, the Ethiopian Diabetes Association and St. Paul’s University Hospital in Addis Ababa and the Tulu Bolo District Hospital in the Southwest Shewa Zone. In spite of the difficulties tied to the pandemic, a health intervention was carried out in Harawa District in Somali Region, in collaboration with a local NGO for infrastructural improvements and staff training at the District health centre. The political situation in the country – with various hostilities between different ethnic groups – has worsened since November amid the crisis in the Tigray region. On top of this is an economic situation where the currency has gradually devalued by 33% over the year and the inflation rate stands at 20.16%.