Guidance

Ethiopia: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from Ethiopia for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

  • explain to them how the NHS works
  • discuss how this compares to the healthcare system they’ve been used to

Ensure that all patients are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Screen all new entrants (including children) from this country for tuberculosis (TB).

There is a high incidence of Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Ethiopia.

Offer and recommend an HIV test to all adults from Ethiopia, and consider offering an HIV test to infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK.

Offer to all sexually active individuals:

  • a full sexual health screen
  • safer sex health promotion advice

Consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly among those who have recently arrived. Ethiopia has an intermediate prevalence.

Ask about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

There is a high risk of malaria in some areas of Ethiopia.

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Ethiopia.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been estimated to affect more than 60% of women and girls in Ethiopia.

Find out more about children’s health.

Infectious diseases

Immunisation

Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule. See Immunisation collection with complete schedules.

Tuberculosis

The incidence of TB in Ethiopia is very high (>500 cases/100,000), and there is also a high burden of MDR-TB, so:

  • screen all new entrants, including children, for TB according to NICE guidelines
  • refer to TB services promptly if screening is positive
  • seek advice, if you are a local TB service, from the MDR-TB Clinical Advice Service before treating patients from Ethiopia for TB
  • maintain long term vigilance for symptoms of TB even if initial screening is negative
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

There is a high rate of HIV in Ethiopia (>1%), so:

Although recent global data on STIs are not available, countries with high HIV rates tend to have higher rates of STIs, and the range of STIs encountered in Ethiopia may vary from those in the UK, so offer to sexually active individuals:

  • a full sexual health screen
  • safer sex health promotion advice by referral to local genito-urinary medicine services

Hepatitis B

Ethiopia has an intermediate prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly those who have recently arrived
  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow-up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a selective immunisation programme for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Ethiopia has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C if other risk factors apply.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Malaria

There is a high risk of malaria in some areas of Ethiopia, due to P. falciparum and P. vivax, so:

Typhoid

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Ethiopia, so:

  • ensure that travellers to Ethiopia are offered typhoid immunisation and advice on prevention of enteric fever
  • remember enteric fever in the differential diagnosis of illness in patients with a recent history of travel to-or-from Ethiopia

Helminths

There is a risk of helminth infections in Ethiopia, including:

  • schistosomiasis
  • lymphatic filariasis
  • soil transmitted helminthiasis

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK Ethiopia
Number of children per woman¹ 2 5
Use of contraception² 82% 14.7%
Breast examination or mammography³ 75% 1%
Cervical cancer screening⁴ 70% 1%

¹lifetime average; ²by woman of reproductive age or partner; ³women aged 50 to 69 years; ⁴women aged 20 to 69 years


Find out more about women’s health.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been estimated to affect more than 60% of women and girls in Ethiopia, so be advised that:

  • children born in the UK may be at risk of FGM during visits to friends and relatives in Ethiopia
  • it is illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM, whether or not it is lawful in Ethiopia

If you are concerned that a British citizen may be taken overseas for the purpose of FGM, please call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500, or email fgm@fco.gov.uk.

Nutritional and metabolic concerns

Anaemia

There is a low risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence is 5 to 20%) and a high risk in pre-school children (estimated prevalence is >40%), so:

  • be alert to this possibility in recently arrived migrants, particularly for women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • covering their body for cultural or religious reasons (lack of sunlight)
  • skin colour
  • diet (vegan or vegetarian)

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of health indicators and health care in Ethiopia.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of Ethiopia.

Languages

Language Population (%)
Oromo¹ 33.8
Amharic (official national language) 29.3
Somali² 6.2
Tigrigna (Tigrinya)³ 5.9
Sidamo 4
Wolaytta 2.2
Gurage 2
Afar⁴ 1.7
Hadiyya 1.7
Gamo 1.5
Gedeo 1.3
Opuuo 1.2
Kafa 1.1
Other 8.1

Arabic and English (major foreign language taught in schools) are also spoken but no percentages are available for these languages.

¹official working language in the State of Oromiya; ²official working language of the State of Sumale; ³official working language of the State of Tigra; ⁴ official working language of the State of Afar

Source: The World Factbook.


Find out about language interpretation.

Religions

Religion Population (%)
Ethiopian Orthodox 43.5
Muslim 33.9
Protestant 18.5
Traditional 2.7
Catholic 0.7
Other 0.6

Source: The World Factbook.

Migration to the UK

There were almost 15,000 people from Ethiopia living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 25 October 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated and made editorial changes to meet GOV.UK style.
  2. First published.