Although Ethiopia’s public health situation is improving in terms of its Millennium Development Goals (set by the World Health Organisation [WHO]), there are still major, achievable gains to be made, benefitting millions of lives in the country. For example, a recent study by the WHO showed that HIV/AIDS was the second cause of death in Ethiopia (2012), killing 7.3% of the population that year. It had increased in its cause of death rank since the year 2000. This is particularly damaging for the countries development because HIV/AIDS related deaths are reducing the number of people in the earning middle-age demographic.
This situation is worsened by the fact that 1.6% of Ethiopia’s population are blind, with over double this number measured as having low vision. These afflictions limit the populations ability to work. Fortunately, 70% of cases of blindness and 80% of cases of low vision are preventable or treatable, leaving huge room for improvement.
Other public health concerns in Ethiopia making up the top ten causes of death in the country generally relate to treatable infections, such as malnutrition and birth/pregnancy related health complications. For example, in 2012, the top cause of death was lower respiratory infections (killing 15% of the population), and the third largest cause of death (after HIV) was diarrhoeal diseases (6%). These deaths are preventable.