The Experience of the Continuity of Essential Health Care Services during the COVID -19 Pandemic: The Case of Ethiopia.


  • Sisay Yifru
  • Temesgen Tesfu
  • Aklilu Azazh
  • Aschalew Worku
  • Abebaw Gebeyehu
  • Berhane Redae
  • Dereje Duguma
  • Menbeu Sultan
  • Miraf Walelegn
  • Muluwork Tefera
  • Meseret Zelalem
  • Natinael Tssema
  • Rahel Argaw
  • Sisay Teklu
  • Woldesenbet waganew
  • Yakob Seman
  • Hiwot Solomon
  • Naod Wendrad
  • Natnael Asres
  • Fekadu Yadeta
  • Mahmmed Ahemed


AbstractIntroduction: The COVID - 19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented impact on health systems across the globe and in Ethiopia. Panic, uncoordinated response efforts, inadequate community awareness, lack of experience in handling similar public health emergencies – all of which were challenges faced during the initial pandemic period. Furthermore, the initial pandemic period shed light on the weak resilience of the healthcare system, where essential health services saw a decline in visits across most of the service areas, including RMNCH, chronic care, emergency and critical care, and a number of other clinical services. The government took a series of measures to curb this risk, including prioritization of essential services for ensuring their continuity and a set of interventions cascaded through an interim guideline issued by the MoH. This enabled the swift recovery of the services across most of the indicators. This article aims to share the experiences in Ethiopia and to share the lessons learnt from the gaps identified and the success stories for the impact of the interventions aimed at maintaining essential health care services during the COVID -19 pandemic.Methods: This article primarily utilized secondary data derived from the DHIS2 system as well as guidelines, reports, and protocols produced by the Ministry of Health - Ethiopia and other bodies during the COVID -19 pandemic.Results: March 2020 is exactly two months prior to the first case being detected in Ethiopia, this is a period when essential health services were compromised across many service areas. Particularly, emergency visits, inpatient admission, new TB case detection, elective and major surgeries declined during this period and remained lower as compared to the same period in 2019. Unexpectedly, skilled birth attendant and live births were higher than last year. Critical ICU and emergency related death rates were slightly higher as compared to the same period in 2019. Furthermore, measles vaccinated children and malnutrition screened children were higher during this period.Conclusion: This study has found that, essential health care services delivery revived and performed well following the strong commitment and visible interventions taken by the government after the initial period of the pandemic. However, stronger, and more resilient healthcare systems need to be put in place, to ensure continuity of essential healthcare and other existing services. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev: 2021:35 (SI-4): 00-00]Keywords: continuity of essential health services, COVID - 19 pandemic




How to Cite

Sisay Yifru, Temesgen Tesfu, Aklilu Azazh, Aschalew Worku, Abebaw Gebeyehu, Berhane Redae, Dereje Duguma, Menbeu Sultan, Miraf Walelegn, Muluwork Tefera, Meseret Zelalem, Natinael Tssema, Rahel Argaw, Sisay Teklu, Woldesenbet waganew, Yakob Seman, Hiwot Solomon, Naod Wendrad, Natnael Asres, Fekadu Yadeta, & Mahmmed Ahemed. (2021). The Experience of the Continuity of Essential Health Care Services during the COVID -19 Pandemic: The Case of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 35(4). Retrieved from



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