Tekle-Ab Mekbib


Recognizing the need for strengthening the health care delivery system in the country,
and to bring services to the doors of communities, the Government of Ethiopia has
launched the Health Extension Program (HEP). HEP is a new initiative developed as one
of the components of the Health Sector Development Program (HSDP-II), which is an
innovative community based health care delivery system. In order to address the acute
shortage of human resources in the areas of health, and the prevailing constraints in the
training of health professionals, HEP has also become a centerpiece for the “Accelerated
expansion of primary health care coverage” program. Under HEP, in the coming two
years, over 30,000 health extension workers (HEWs) will be trained and deployed for
some 15,000 health posts, which includes the construction and/or upgrading of 3153
health centers. The main objective of HEP is to improve access and equity to preventive
essential health interventions provided at village and household levels with focus on
sustained preventive health actions and increased health awareness. It also serves as
effective mechanism for shifting health care resources from being dominantly urban to
the rural areas where the majority of the country’s population resides. The Government
has now trained and deployed close to 17,500 HEWs, and they were assigned to about
9000 health posts (villages), and this comprises over 60% of the planned 33,200 HEWs to
have blanket coverage. HEP is considered as the most important institutional framework
for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
(Ethiop. J. Reprod. Health May 2007, 1 (1), 75-85)



Review Articles