February 2024: Ethiopia: The value of health insurance for the marginalized Manja and Fuga communities

The value of health insurance for the marginalized Manja and Fuga communities in southern Ethiopia

Access to healthcare is a natural human need. However, for the marginalized communities of the Manja and Fuga tribes in southern Ethiopia, access to quality healthcare is a major challenge. Due to their remote location, stigmatization and limited resources, these communities often face obstacles such as a lack of health facilities, trained medical staff and financial constraints. They are particularly vulnerable to infections and the severity of the disease itself, as was the case with the Manja tribe who suffered from elephantiasis (leaf swelling). Many members of these tribes are therefore unable to obtain the necessary medical care, necessitating the introduction of a health insurance program specifically tailored to their needs.

Through the mediation of Getachew, the person responsible for this at PBF, health insurance payments for the Fuga communities were started last year. This year, PBF together with our dedicated local priest, Abba Matthewos, has covered 293 households and it is estimated that 1465 people are eligible for health insurance.

Abba Mathewos, the dedicated Catholic priest from the Capuchin order, lives in Kefa. He describes the new health insurance options for his community, Manja:

  1. these people do not know at allhow and where they can be treated, what health insurance means, etc., but now they understand it well and use it. Then the expected change becomes very clear, which makes them take care of their health.
  2. the concrete change is mainly the inner securitythey get and the outer change of their body. When the patient starts such a treatment with an insurance card,
  3. through this insurance, they also have the right to be treated in state hospitals and health centers without having to pay them or their family members.
  4. the characteristics of such a disease are that it deforms the whole body, and their mind is uncomfortable to feel bad. This means that both mentally and mentally ill people are excluded and abandoned because they are not insured. They don’t go to hospitals for treatment at all, and now it’s opening their eyesto realize the benefits. For example, if someone is hospitalized for a few days, they have to pay for the bed rental every day and every night, but if they or their family member gets sick, all those costs, including medication and treatment, are free. So that’s very visible.

It looks like they are promoting humanity, respect for human dignity and behavior to some extent.

Because of their poverty and ignorance, they and their children were dying of easily curable diseases like malaria, flu, headaches and women in childbirth, etc., so now that they have a clear opportunity to use this health insurance, they can control their humanity as well as any other people. More than other concrete changes and progress is that these all family members can be treated when they get sick, and when they hear this good news, their face itself is cheerful, calm and bright. When an insurance group wants to help the sick family, the first requirement is proof of an insurance card. Health insurance makes everyone recognizable, especially the poorest in their kebele and district. As a result, people now have more security. Now they are becoming more active and sensitive in their lives. In the future, they will see big changes in their own families.

If someone who is insured falls ill and reports an emergency to the government center, the ambulance can also be sent.

This highly vulnerable, discriminated community is incredibly grateful to PBF!

Getachew Sale

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