Dignified communication in a time of crisis.

COVID-19 and the role of palliative care in Ethiopia


  • Yoseph Mamo Azmera Hospice Ethiopia
  • Ephrem Abathun Ayalew
  • Eleanor Reed Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA


palliative care, End of life care, bad news communication


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is recklessly, indiscriminatingly, highlighting the need for an often neglected yet vital component of any health system: palliative care.As we write this, recorded global infections have passed 23 million with 800,000 recorded deaths (1) .End of life preferences are both a highly personal and global, human phenomenon. To be with family, to be at peace, at home; in short ‘a good death’.2 Yet more and more of us are dying apart from families, in hospitals. This is especially true now, in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic.Despite traditional community pactices of 'merdo', bad news communication is commonly shunned duty by Ethiopian health providers and still much abhorred by the community. Culturally, the collective will of community prevails over the personal autonomy of patients. Individual autonomy is further undermined by critical illness at end of life.The cloak of palliation, a crucial yet often non-existent component of fragile health care systems and humanitarian response efforts, is a critical adjunct which both reduces suffering and spares resources

Author Biographies

Yoseph Mamo Azmera, Hospice Ethiopia

I am a physician working in Ethiopia and qualified as a medical Doctor (MD) in 1991, with three years additional training in Internal Medicine from the Addis Ababa University and licensed to practice general internal medicine. I have worked as associate professor of Internal Medicine at Jima University 2000-2006, Associate director of HIV prevention and control program and Palliative care development at UCSD-Ethiopia from 2007-2013, attended Palliative Medicine Fellowship in Kerala, India 2012-2013 and continued clinical practice and public health work on decentralization of Non-communicable diseases from 2013 to date

Eleanor Reed, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Eleanor Anderson Reid.Date of birth: 1978 May 6. MSc, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2017,MD Albany Medical College, 2011.Title: Assistant Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Section of Global Health and International Emergency Medicine.She an expert on global palliative care with a particular focus on Ethiopia.


1. WHO, Corona Virus disease. Weekly epidemiologic update.https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200824-weekly-epi-update.pdf?sfvrsn=806986d1_4, (Accessed on Aug 26)
2. Centers for Disease Control. Advanced Care planning; ensuring your wishes are known honored if you are unable to speak for yourself. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/advanced-care-planning-critical-issue-brief.pdf (Accessed on Aug 26)