The global COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous pressure on health systems and economies around the world. In Ethiopia, where many people are engaged in low-wage informal employment, the livelihoods, incomes and well-being of many households are potentially at risk. Effective social policy responses, including social protection and universal health coverage policies, are crucial to limit potential negative socio-economic consequences of the crisis and to prevent an increase in multidimensional poverty.
The German Development Institute/ Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES) and the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam held an hybrid workshop on 11 May 2021 that provided first-hand insights from current studies in Ethiopia and discussed potential policy strategies to strengthen the health and social protection system. After the welcome and opening remarks of the State Minister of Health, Dereje Duguma, the first session of the workshop provided an overview of the social protection response to the current crisis provided by Christoph Strupat (DIE) and Daisy Demirag (World Bank). In the second session, Tom Lavers (University of Manchester) and Zemzem Shigute (Erasmus University Rotterdam) showed to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the progress towards Universal Health Coverage and discussed the future role of the COVID-19 vaccines in controlling the pandemic. The event was moderated by Prof. Damen Hailemariam (School of Public Health) and Anagaw D. Mebratie (Addis Ababa University). The results provided a better understanding of the policy responses and options to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and were a basis for a panel discussion between representatives of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and the speakers.