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Restoring Access to Healthcare in Conflict-Affected Communities in Tigray


March 26, 2024 • 2 min read

Adi Keyh is nestled amongst the rugged landscape of Tigray, northern Ethiopia. The region was ravaged by conflict from 2020 until 2022. Although a peace agreement was brokered over one year ago, many conflict-affected communities have yet to fully recover.

Vital medical centres in disrepair

A study conducted by the World Health Organisation found that out of the 853 medical facilities delivering health services in Tigray, 86% sustained significant structural damage during the two-year conflict. Adi Keyh Health Centre is one of them.

Furthermore, 71% of the medical equipment used by these facilities is only partially operational. Numerous other medical centres were completely destroyed or had their equipment rendered completely unusable.

“The health centre was damaged. It was hard for sick people to come here for help,” said Senait, a local resident of Adi Keyh. “Even mothers about to have babies couldn’t find a good place to give birth. On top of being damaged, the place was dirty and full of garbage. The whole community felt down because of the war and destruction.”

The dilapidated medical centre in Adi Keyh could not deliver safe, high-quality healthcare services. Residents of Adi Keyh, particularly pregnant women, were highly vulnerable to potentially life-threatening complications arising from common illnesses or childbirth.

Haile, another local resident, echoed Senayt’s sentiments: “There was no service, and we were suffering. Some people with different illnesses made it through, but others did not. Some had to travel all the way to Mekele [the capital of Tigray] for treatment, but they didn’t find much help there either. “Many of our neighbours passed away during the war.”

To minimise the risk of serious illness or death due to the absence of adequate medical care in conflict-affected communities, GOAL is restoring access to healthcare services across Tigray using funding from the European Union.

Restoring access to healthcare

Since 2022, GOAL teams in Ethiopia have been repairing vital civilian infrastructure damaged by the conflict in Tigray, including hospitals and water networks. Adi Keyeh Health Centre is among the facilities that have received renovation support from GOAL, with funding from the European Union.

“The difference is obvious. Even when you enter the facility, it is welcoming; it makes you feel as if you are going to access proper services. Before, there wasn’t much medicine, but that’s different now.

“Mothers who come here to give birth get taken care of in a clean place. The lab is up and running, too, so you’ll get the help you need.”

“Services have improved a lot,” Haile agreed. “Mothers are having babies in much better conditions. Just like before the war, patients are getting good care. And if they need extra help, they’re referred to better places.”

Senayt Tareke, the district Mothers and Children health Expert thanked GOAL and the European Union for the support. “With GOAL’s help, we’re fixing up the health centre. We’re painting and fixing doors, windows, locks, and even the water system. We’re thankful for the European Union’s support through GOAL because it’s helping our community get proper healthcare nearby.”