A health center in Southcentral Ethiopia that provides 24/7 emergency care to over 5,000 people living in rural areas. The health center is where many women deliver their babies, where you can get contraception (including Depo implants), and where a variety of illnesses are tested and treated. There’s also a lab with a hand-cranked blood centrifuge and a microscope where a lab technician types malaria and pneumonia infections.

In the first photograph, you can see Abdul, who leads this health center, explaining local disease rates to Bill Gates.

The second photograph gives you a sense of the health center itself (which has no running water and very little electricity). The third picture is the view from the health center of the huts where nearby families live.

The bottom picture charts under-5 mortality since 2004, when these health centers opened (along with the more rural health outposts, which I posted about here). The red line is Ethiopia; the gray line the world average.

In 2004, more than 11% of children born in Ethiopia died before five; today, it’s less than 7%. And as you can see, every year since 2004, the under-5 mortality rate has fallen faster in Ethiopia than it has in the world overall. Now, correlation doesn’t prove causation, but both the patients and health workers I spoke to agreed these rural health centers are working. 

(It’s also worth noting that Ethiopia’s under-5 mortality rate has dropped far faster than other nations, even those that spend much more on health. In Nigeria, for instance, 12% of kids still die before the age of 5; Pakistan, which is far richer than Ethiopia, has barely seen its under-5 mortality drop at all in the past decade. So the world has a lot to learn from Ethiopia’s health investments.)