According to the Queen Mary University of London, in March 2013 there was only one Ethiopian doctor for every 36,000 people (in the UK it is 1:400). With the difficulty in accessing healthcare, many Ethiopians use traditional healing methods and medicines. Common illnesses in Ethiopia include malaria, typhus, tuberculosis and respiratory infections. Only around one in ten people have access to proper sanitation, therefore diarrheal diseases and cholera are a constant threat. Water pollution is an ever-present issue.
In 2009, the WHO reported that in Ethiopia there were over three million recorded cases of malaria, nearly 150,000 cases of tuberculosis and more than 30,000 cholera infections. The Canadian Journal of Zoology reported that Bilharziasis, a human parasitic disease, ranks second behind malaria in terms of socio-economic and public-health importance in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
According to UNICEF, around three-quarters of Ethiopian women (aged 15–49) are circumcised. Over the last decade, organisations like HFCE and the Hamlin Fistula Hospital have campaigned against this dangerous practice, which is common in both Muslim and Christian communities. With a better understanding about the dangers of female genital mutilation – which include infertility, infection and a higher risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths – the practice is declining. An estimated 40 percent of girls are circumcised, although this can vary according to region, being more predominant in the north and east.
HFCE sees many children requiring urgent medical attention. Parents of sponsored children are required to seek medical attention when the children are sick. With sufficient funding, DRE hopes to facilitate vaccination and anti-parasitical programs.