Stories

The need for children’s medical care in Ethiopia

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Ethiopia is an incredibly proud and beautiful country located in the horn of Africa. It’s the second-most populous country in Africa, one of only two countries in Africa to never have been colonized, and the second Christian nation in the world. Not surprising considering it is the only sub-Saharan African country to be mentioned in the Bible (think of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40).

Besides its rich history, Ethiopia is a stunning country with towering mountain peaks in the central highlands contrasted sharply by the desert Danakil Depression, a vast plain in the north. It’s in this Danakil Depression that you can find several of Ethiopia’s active, lava-filled volcanoes which, once again, contrast to the abundance of rivers that flow throughout the fertile Ethiopian countryside, including the main source of the Nile river.

Even with all of this, Ethiopia has been dealt a difficult hand with a large majority of the population living in poverty as subsistence farmers – only growing enough food to feed themselves and their family. This high dependence on small-scale agriculture leaves the population very susceptible to natural disasters, such as regular droughts and plagues of locust, which ravage the country causing many to suffer through intense and deadly famines.

With so many people struggling just to feed their families, healthcare in Ethiopia remains a luxury for many. It’s estimated that Ethiopia has roughly 77 doctors for every one million people. And out of these doctors, only one is an orthopedic surgeon. By contrast, the USA has roughly 2,612 doctors for every one million people and the UK has 30 orthopedic surgeons for every one million. The hospitals are mostly focused on treating trauma patients (car accidents, workplace injuries, serious falls, etc.) leaving few resources available for children with treatable disabilities, the very ones for whom CURE’s heartbreaks.

CURE estimates that 2.7 million Ethiopian children are living with treatable disabilities. That’s 2.7 million children unnecessarily suffering from conditions that are completely treatable. 2.7 million children whose futures are unfairly diminished by stigmas about their ability. 2.7 million children judged and denied opportunity based on how they look rather than who they are or what they can do.

It’s 2.7 million children just like Kasib who was born with a condition causing his legs to bend inwards at odd angles. His legs got worse as he grew to the point where he couldn’t walk without using a stick to prop himself up. Because he couldn’t walk, he was unable to make the long journey to school. Without an education, his chances of improving his station in life were essentially dashed. Most children without an education will work on the family farm, but with his legs the way they were, Kasib couldn’t do that. Realistically, his only shot of contributing to his family’s well-being would be to beg on street corners.

Thankfully, a doctor happened to visit Kasib’s village. This doctor had been exposed to the work and mission of CURE through our networking, development, and training initiatives throughout the Ethiopian medical community. While this doctor couldn’t help Kasib himself, he was able to share the hope of healing at the CURE Children’s Hospital of Ethiopia with Kasib’s family. Kasib wasted no time getting to the hospital. While the process was long, due to the complexity of Kasib’s disability, he walked out of our hospital door with his head held higher than ever and on his own two feet, no stick needed!

Now just 2,699,999 more children suffering from treatable disabilities to go.

There’s no way around it, Ethiopia is in a rough place with one of the lowest per capita orthopedic surgeons in the world coupled with one of the highest numbers of children with disabilities. But we believe in a big God who is capable of the impossible. 

With your support, both prayerful and financial, we can continue our steadfast commitment to providing hope and healing to the 2.7 million Ethiopian children in desperate need of both. On top of this, your support goes to helping to train up the next generation of Ethiopian orthopedic surgeons, who will help us take this fight against marginalization and discrimination outside our doors to other hospitals and amplify our effectiveness throughout Ethiopia

God has called all of us to do big things, and we are honored to step up to the challenge for the benefit of God’s kingdom and for the children of Ethiopia – something we can only do with your partnership.

About The Author

Joel Witwer

My title says that I'm the Lead Storyteller, previously Storyteller for Niger, previously CUREkids Coordinator in Zambia. All this really means is I hang out with kids and sometimes take photos. I love these kids; thus, I love my job. My goal is to translate this love into pixels and words so that you can fall in love as well!

Read more about Joel