Ethiopian health extension programme helps reduce maternal mortality

This animation presents highlights of recent research which found that a significant proportion of the decline may be attributed to the implementation of the government’s Health Extension Program (HEP).

In the early 1990s Ethiopia had one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. Government programmes since the early 2000s have aimed to tackle this resulting in a 70% decline in Ethiopia’s maternal mortality rate.

Findings suggest that Ethiopian health programme has prevented 40,000 maternal deaths

Ethiopia's health extension programme

Ethiopia's health extension programme

Ethiopia's Health Extension Program

The HEP was launched in 2003 to tackle Ethiopia’s high maternal mortality rate. It enabled an increase in the number of health posts and trained practitioners, as well as an increase in sanitation and educational facilities. In 2011, it was expanded to include the Women’s or Health Development Army (HDA), which involved the establishment of health development teams.

Researchers from the International Institute of Social Studies and Addis Ababa University assessed the effects of HEP and HDA on maternal mortality ratios in Ethiopia. Findings suggest that 37% of the decline in the maternal mortality rate may be attributed to the HEP and HAD, with approximately 40,000 deaths prevented.

The research was published in Social Science & Medicine and received financial support from the Trust Fund of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

More information

Matthias Rieger, Natascha Wagner, Anagaw Mebratie, Getnet Alemu and Arjun Bedi, The impact of the Ethiopian health extension program and health development army on maternal mortality: A synthetic control approach’, Social Science & Medicine.   

For more information contact:

  • Matthias Rieger (Assistant Professor of Development Economics, International Institute of Social Studies)
  • Natascha Wagner (Associate Professor, International Institute of Social Studies)
  • Anagaw Mebratie (Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University)
  • Getnet Alemu (Associate Professor, Institute of Development Policy Research, Addis Ababa University)
  • Arjun Bedi (Professor of Development Economics, International Institute of Social Studies)