Communication for Health

Photo: Kelley Lynch, courtesy of USAID Ethiopia

Ethiopia has made remarkable strides in population health, reaching important health milestones in maternal, newborn, and child mortality. However, maternal mortality ratio remains high at 420 per 100,000 live births, with low rates of antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and postnatal care-seeking. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) coverage is at 43 percent. Malnutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases continue to contribute to maternal, infant, and child mortality.

The Communication for Health project is designed to optimize the power of health communication to save lives and transform the public health system in Ethiopia. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs in partnership with the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and John Snow, Inc. (JSI). Communication for Health is working to measurably contribute to the adoption of healthy behaviors in six technical health areas:

  • Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Nutrition

In addition, the project has three main objectives: 1) To strengthen public sector health systems and coordination for strategic behavior change communication (SBCC); 2) To strengthen SBCC design and implementation; and 3) To improve use of data for decision-making in SBCC.

Communication for Health will strategically integrate gender into its various interventions through the development of various tools and SBCC capacity training. The project is designing SBCC interventions that address underlying inequitable gender norms in Ethiopia that are associated with unhealthy behaviors and low utilization of health services, striving to make an impact at the household, social, and environmental levels by empowering women, involving men, mobilizing communities, and strengthening organizational capacities for a lasting health behavior change in Ethiopia.

Communication for Health’s vision will be enabled through a robust government team with the skills, mandate, and tools to lead, coordinate, and implement impactful SBCC programs. It is a priority of the project to ensure that the systems and structures supporting the vision will endure over time.

For more information, please contact Chief of Party Simon Heliso ( or Team Leader Amrita Gill-Bailey (

Oromia, Amhara, SNNP, and Tigray regions in Ethiopia
Time Frame:


  • Conducted a gender audit with the Communication for Health project team to reflect on different gender issues, explore current programmatic and organizational practices related to gender and provide collective input into the project’s direction to ensure gender integration at different levels. The audit resulted in the identification of key areas for additional staff training on gender, the establishment of the Gender Working Group (GWG) and the development of an organizational gender policy.
  • Brought together regional/central staff and implementing partners including the Ministry of Health for an interactive training on gender integration into SBCC programs. The four-day training aimed to not only increase awareness about the importance of integrating gender approaches into SBCC programming, but to also strengthen participants’ skills in doing so.