Health in the cross hairs of the Tigray conflict
As Ethiopia’s civil war approaches its first deadly anniversary in November, there is, as yet, little prospect for peace. The underlying causes of the immediate conflict are bitterly contested and the essential conditions for solutions remain elusive. Geopolitical factors mean that the African Union and United Nations are paralysed, even if there was a mood for external intervention after the Afghanistan debacle.
Ethiopia was starting to do well…
Ethiopia has a long and bloody history with repeated internal conflicts distinguished by extreme brutalities. But recent periods of peace and stability were bearing fruit. By 2019, the country had crawled up to 173rd out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index.
The aggregate statistic does no justice to the impressive strides made since the Millennium. By 2019, Ethiopia’s GNI had trebled to $2207 per capita (in 2017 PPP$) and life expectancy had jumped by nearly a third to 66.6 years. Health indicators mirrored or exceeded general progress with a stead fall in under-5 child mortality (51.8/1000 live births), and effective universal health coverage reaching 46.5% by 2019. Within Ethiopia, Tigray’s 6-7 million population were, on average, fairing slightly better than the country, as a whole.
It seemed that there was nothing to stop Ethiopia’s estimated 118 million people becoming Africa’s development motor.
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