Covid-19 in Ethiopia

The first known case of covid-19 in Ethiopia was on 13th February 2020. In April the number of cases began to rise and the government declared a state of emergency to curb its spread. The severe new restrictions included a ban of more than 4 people meeting, an introduction of 2 metre social distancing, a 50% reduction of passengers on public transport, the closure of schools & universities and only cargo & essential goods were allowed to cross the border.

The restrictions have made life in Ethiopia difficult with long queues to get to work or no work at all. If you have no work, you have no income and starvation becomes a bigger threat than Covid-19. Fortunately there have been far fewer cases than the initial estimates by the WHO. Despite very limited medial resources there have only been 1,141 deaths and 71,083 cases in an estimated population of 110 million (23rd September).  Several reasons have been suggested for the lower numbers including, a younger population, the quick response from the government, less widespread travel and previous partial immunity conferred by other endemic infections.

Hospice Ethiopia Stall at Mannington Hall in September

Hospice Ethiopia UK has continued to support Hospice Ethiopia during the pandemic with financial support, assisting with the procurement of PPE and advice about adjusting the day to day running of the hospice. The day unit has been closed and these patients are now supported by phone. Our fundraising has been severely curtailed this year by the pandemic but we were delighted to raise £439 at the Mannington Hall Charities day on September 6th. We’re also very grateful to donors who have set up a standing order, which ensures regular funds for Hospice Ethiopia. If you would like to help Hospice Ethiopia in this way, please email info@hospiceethiopia.org.uk

Our fundraising is used to care for people like Maaza (not her real name) in Addis Ababa. She was a 30 year old lady with cancer of her lower jaw. Following surgery, the wound became infected so it didn’t heal. Her face became distorted by the mass which did not respond to chemotherapy. By the time the Hospice Ethiopia nurses met her, she hadn’t had a proper might’s sleep for 3 months. The pain & distress were overwhelming. The nurse reported Maaza “felt sad, hopeless and unworthy”.

The nurses visited her frequently at home; they provided medicines & dressings to control the pain & infection. They also gave her information about her illness as she previously had no understanding about it.

Although her illness could not be cured, her quality of life was greatly improved and she and her husband were able to sleep at night. Two months later, Maaza died peacefully at home with her family, free from pain & distress.

Patient story

K is a 65-year old married man with liver cancer. When the nurse first saw him, he was suffering from severe back pain, anxiety and a debilitating insect-biting type pain in his legs which meant he slept badly. The nurses prescribed pain killers, explained what was happening to him and he is now sleeping much better. He said “I would like you to come and see me again. I know you have many patients to care for and many responsibilities, but I would like to see you as often as possible. When I meet with you, I feel at ease and get relief from my pain & sickness.” Patient

Feedback such as this shows how the care Hospice Ethiopia provides makes such a difference to the lives of their patients. It’s easy to forget how even basic care such as the provision of pain killers, something we take for granted in the UK, is not available to the vast majority of terminal cases in Ethiopia.

patient K.png

Patient story

Your donations have helped transform the life of Patient M, a 30 year old married woman with two girls. She has HIV and colorectal cancer for which she has had surgery and the formation of a colostomy. She was suffering from the worst possible rectum pain, with a foul smelling wound on her bottom, anxiety, sadness, poor sleeping, and a poor appetite. She used to survive by doing daily labour work and her husband the same. She became bankrupt when bedridden and suffered a lack of adequate food for her and her family. Her husband was struggling to taking care of her because of the bad smell, lack of his nursing skills and lack of wound dressing materials.

patient M

The Hospice Ethiopia nurse has seen M in her home and delivered holistic care and support (after a thorough assessment) including pain management, wound care, psychological support, financial support (Comfort Fund), food support, gauze and solution for wound care and has taught M’s husband how to care for her wound.

Patient Story: Hewyot

Hewyot was referred to Hospice Ethiopia by an Elder Leader. 70 years old, she had extreme pain in her right lower leg. Her distress was palpable, she was shaking uncontrollably, breathing rapidly, confined to her bed, her pulse was sky high, she was dehydrated and her mouth was sore.

She was also a diabetic and had been referred to the government hospital for control of the disease, but hadn’t gone as her son was busy at work. Nothing had been prescribed for her pain, and its cause was difficult to ascertain; it might have been a prolapsed disc.

Our medics visited Hewyot and gave her two different types of pain killer (Tramadol and Amitriptyline) and an antifungal gel (miconazole) for her mouth. We encouraged her to drink lots of water and go to hospital for control of her diabetes.

We returned two days later and found a completely different woman, smiling, relaxed and able to walk around her home. She had no pain and had been to hospital for management of her diabetes. She is receiving ongoing follow-up from Hospice Ethiopia.

Heywot-after

Patient Story: Fetle

Fetle is 24. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 months ago. Sadly the disease had already spread and could not be cured. When she came to us she was suffering with pain in her breast, spine, underarm and left leg. She had no pain killers. The breast cancer had spread through the skin, causing an open wound that was infected. She had become incontinent which, with other symptoms, suggested she had cancer in her spine and was at high risk of becoming paralysed.

Fetle was born several hundreds of miles outside Addis Ababa and been abandoned at birth. She had been brought up by a non-governmental organisation. At 18 she was raped by one of their workers and she subsequently had twins.

Fetle used to work as a cleaner but can’t anymore, due to the pain and other symptoms. As there is no welfare system in Ethiopia she had become entirely reliant on neighbours for food and support.

So what can Hospice Ethiopia do for Fetle?

We are giving Fetle pain killers, antibiotics for her infected wound and steroids to try and prevent paralysis. We will phone her and visit her each week, to review her symptoms and the effectiveness of the medicines.

We are also providing ongoing psychological, spiritual and financial support. £10 per month will be enough for her and her twins to eat properly. We will also help Fetle make plans for her twins, once she cannot care for them herself.