The Health Officer Department strives to produce competent public health officers who undertake promotional, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services compatible to the needs of the population.
We aim to be the leading Department in the country by producing high quality public health professionals who provide promotional, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services by 2020.
Our Department trains health officers to meet the high level of need that currently exists in Ethiopia. As a developing country Ethiopia has been suffering from a wide range of health problems for many years. The cumulative effects of features such as poverty, high proportion of maternal and child mortality, high prevalence of communicable diseases and accidents, increased awareness about civic democratic rights and concern of equity by societies and communities together with rapidly increasing population size has resulted in an increased demand for health care. In response to the public’s high demand for health care, the government of Ethiopia introduced measures to improve the quality of health care throughout the country in its Health Sector Development Program-III (HSDP-III) as part and parcel of the MDGs with emphasis on addressing PHC services. A key hurdle exists – the proportion of highly qualified health professionals (clinicians) is very low compared to the size of the population served. Whilst this situation requires the increased training of appropriately trained physicians some key issues remain: training physicians takes a long period of time and is too expensive making it difficult for a poor country to train the adequate number of professionals necessary to meet the health care needs of the country; and the nature of the curative and preventive health care services in the PHC units get overlap, so the condition necessitates comparable working-knowledge, skills and expertise of both clinical and public health disciplines/care (curative, preventive).
Hence the solution of training health officers -if health officers are trained and equipped with the knowledge , skills, professional ethics and wisdom that is required to solve and manage the common clinical disorders (medical, surgical, obstetric and pediatric) and the potentially preventable public health problems in PHC settings, (District hospital and health centre) together with all other teams, they could play a major role in alleviating those health problems by providing a range of clinical , public health and managerial health care services. Therefore, training of Public health officers is found more feasible and cost effective in solving a huge range of the most pressing and basic clinical and public health problems of the population in Ethiopia.
In line with national standards our training is designed to prepare graduates to carry out most public health services at the rural health centers, promotional, preventive and curative, including emergency surgery (like caesarean section, some traumas and appendectomy).
Health officer training began in 1954, and was the first degree program in health professional training at the then College of Public Health at Gondar, in the northwest of Ethiopia. At the time, there was no training of medical doctors in Ethiopia. The college was established in order to meet the need for health professionals to work in rural communities. The program began with a four-year post-high-school training program with a unique curriculum that incorporated clinical skills and public health activities in order to meet the urgent needs of the country.
Health officers made an enormous contribution for many years, providing comprehensive services to rural communities. When the College of Public Health was transformed into the Gondar College of Medical Sciences and started training medical doctors, the health officer training ceased. Subsequently, some of the health officers entered medical school to become physicians; others followed the stream of public health to the MPH or PhD level. However, since the public health need could not be met with the scarce number of doctors alone, about 20 years after the cessation of the health officer training, Federal Ministry of Health restarted the program at five centers in the country. Currently, the program is being run in most of the Ethiopian Universities.
If you have any queries please contact:
- Akilew Awoke
- Job Title:
- Head, Health Officer Department
- Tel (office):