Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is a country rich in history and culture. Music plays a huge part culturally with around 80 different ethnic groups being associated with unique sounds through their music.

Despite developments being made within the healthcare system in Ethiopia, the health system still lacks facilities and trained professionals, especially in therapeutic fields. The experience of using music as a therapeutic tool for health and wellbeing purposes by individuals on a professional level or by any organisations are non-existent. This is something we have been invited to change.

Activities and Impact to Date

In early 2016, Ethiopian Surgeon and Musician Dr. Melkamu Meaza sent us an expression of interest for Introductory Training for care professionals in his network who he felt would welcome the opportunity to learn how music can be used within care and treatment.

In 2017, we visited Ethiopia to undertake a feasibility study for three care settings: Gefersa Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre, Hospice Ethiopia and the Ethiopian National Association on Intellectual Disabilities (ENAID). A year later after the feasibility study, in 2018, music therapist Hannah Berhanu and Lily Blows-Poliwoda (the assistant) delivered our first projects ever in Ethiopia.

Gefersa Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre is the only mental health rehabilitation institution in the whole of Ethiopia, located about 20km northwest of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. At Gefersa Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre, 4 staff were trained and 5 adults participated in sessions. The Centre offers professional psychiatric treatment, boarding and rehabilitative occupational therapy to 162 patients, who will also now have access to music sessions.

ENAID is a local not-for-profit and parental association, which provides services for 80 children and adults with a range of disabilities at its day care centre in Addis Ababa. 4 staff as well as 2 board members of ENAID, and 10 children and adults with disabilities participated in the training. ENAID also serves around 400 children with special needs at its outreach sites in public schools and so 6 additional staff from the public schools also took part in the training. Therefore, 480 children and adults with disabilities all could potentially benefit from music.

Hospice Ethiopia was founded in 2003 and is the first and only hospice in Ethiopia, also located in Addis Ababa. Its aim is to improve the quality of life of patients with incurable diseases particularly cancer and/or HIV and AIDS, and the patients’ families through provision of palliative care and support services. Every Thursday during the project delivery, 6 staff were trained with 14 adults taking part in sessions. Hospice Ethiopia provides care to around 40 additional people who also stand to benefit from access to the music programme.

“Music is like our medicine. When I am playing music I have no pain, I am not sick.” (Hospice Patient, 2018)

“100% overwhelmed by the results of your hard work in realizing the first ever music health project in Ethiopia. Keep it up guys!” (Dr. Melkhamu Meaza, 2018)

Current Activities

We returned to Ethiopia last year to offer our Local Partners a Follow Up Visit to support them with the music sessions they have been continuing since they received Introductory Training in 2018. (Read more here). We are currently considering how we might build on the successful work our Local Partners are maintaining and how we might respond to a request for Introductory Training from another psychiatric setting in Addis Ababa.

This year's planned projects within Ethiopia have been interrupted due to the current global pandemic. You can browse in our News section for more recent information about our activities. Or, if you have a specific question related to our work in Ethiopia, please contact us.

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