The Simien Mountains in the Amhara Region of northern Ethiopia are a designated World Heritage Site, a unique environment in which plunging ravines, jagged peaks and lush plateaus are home to rare and exotic plants and animals.

Surviving in such an extreme environment is hard, and the people of the region are among Ethiopia’s most disadvantaged. The interior is only accessible by foot or mule, and reaching a health clinic can involve a long and arduous journey.

The Mobile Medical Service funds a small team of fully qualified Ethiopian nurses, who travel into the most deprived areas with a mule carrying medical supplies and equipment. The nurses also run first aid courses, with the aim of providing a qualified first aider in each village.

Founded in 2010 by Wendy and Hugh Lovatt, the Simien Mountains Mobile Medical Service (SMMMS) now has 20 local staff members, including a project manager, five nurses and nine BSC midwifery students. Their aim is to provide medical care and health education in one of the most disadvantaged and under-served regions of Ethiopia.

The Mandala Trust is helping to fund SMMMS’s new programme aimed at improving adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) for the estimated 10,900 children and young people of east Debark, the closest town to the Simien Mountains National Park.

The programme will have two components: health education, and health care, including prevention, screening, and treatment or referral. The AYSRH curricula will be based on government standards for different age groups, as well as UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO guidelines. It will be the first project of its kind in Ethiopia, and visiting school nurses will implement the programme at the four schools in east Debark as well as to parents.

Funding will be used specifically to support train-the-trainer courses for project staff and local officials on AYSRH education. The project will also identify and develop local male role-models in each community to address school students periodically, to reinforce sex education regarding responsible male behaviour. Funding may also be applied to help adolescent girls deal with menstruation, thereby reducing the number of days missed from school, by trialing solutions that have been successful elsewhere in rural Africa such as cups and reusable towels.

Connect with Simien Mountains Mobile Medical Service online