An Eritrea doctor reflects on the plight of her nation

July 17th, 2020

By Elsa Tekle, MD

While in medical school, my friends and I dreamed of providing medical services to my fellow Eritreans in need.

These days, I find that many Eritrean healthcare workers suffer from a particular anxiety due to the conditions and suffering of Eritreans around the globe. We acknowledge the hardship of our fellow Eritreans; those who do not have access to basic healthcare services and/or are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) inside and outside Eritrea. These are only a few of the many hardships Eritrean natives currently face.

Healthcare professionals in neighboring countries of Eritrea have organized and, in collaboration with their respective governments and NGOs, are successfully supporting their countrymen at home. The government of Eritrea prohibits any such program. Witnessing the success of collaboration between governments and healthcare professionals, and our own country’s inability to do the same, leaves many Eritrean healthcare professionals, like myself, feeling helpless.

As many of us know, the biggest factors that continue to deteriorate the current mental and physiological state of health of Eritreans are: constant fear of harm from the government that their families and/or themselves may face, a lack of basic human rights, prevalent malnutrition, poor living conditions and currently- most concerningly – hunger ( UN Eritrea World Report 2020). Taking advantage of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Eritrean government has enforced a stay at home order that has made Eritreans prisoners of their own home, unable to leave for basic necessities without running the risk of their safety.

Last year, many of us wept endless tears when the government of Eritrea closed the clinics run by the Catholic Church and discontinued life-supporting services received by sick patients in the midst of their care. How devastating that must have been for the healthcare providers at the site, not to mention the families and loved ones of the victims.

I often wonder what happened to patients who were getting therapeutic feeding products for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM)? Closing functioning clinics without an alternative in place is reflective of the dysfunction within the Eritrean health care system. In May 2019 the government of Eritrea closed all functioning Catholic church run health clinics that were actively saving lives. Considering the recent news that the Ministry of Health in Eritrea is now collaborating with UNICEF to address the many issues Eritreans currently face, I commend UNICEF for trying to help the Eritrean people tirelessly to address malnutrition particularly, in rural areas. However, the action of the Eritrean government when deciding to shut down active clinics, is shameful and must be acknowledged.

I often feel broken, but I refuse to give up. I trust in myself and the rest of my fellow Eritrean healthcare professionals to be part of the solution.

I am encouraged by the many goodhearted and highly accomplished Eritrean healthcare professionals who are eager to contribute their services to Eritreans in need.

If we work together, I am confident we have the resources, the knowledge, and the manpower required to meet the challenges our people face. I am very close to achieving my medical school dream of supporting Eritreans in need and am excited to collaborate with those who share that dream with me.



  1. Shame on Mr Afewerki and the leadership of Eritrea who clearly are deceived into believing their own people are their enemies. God created each person in His own Image and clearly holds oppressors to account for the great day of eternal judgement. I pray that God would change the heart of Mr. Afewerki or replace him with compassionate leadership ASAP!
    God bless and protect the Eritrean people.

  2. I’m almost certain that God did not create Isaias in his image but rather that of the devil’s.

    Frankly, no point in praying to God. He has not lifted a finger to elevate the Eritrean people’s suffering in the last 65 years. All he has done is create dictator after dictator that humiliate and kill our people.

    The solution to our nightmare is in our hands regardless of our PhDs or literacy levels. Can you imagine Isais lasting a day in Somalia? No. And they do not all have PhDs!

    Isias kicks the Eritrean people around as a football because we are weak, disunited, full of hot air and in a word useless.

    Our martyrs must be turning in their graves.

    1. I have no doubt that Mr. Afewerki is spiritually dead and has aligned himself with darkness. That is why God has called me to pray for him. I have also been praying that the Holy Spirit would intervene to give hope to the many who have been unjustly imprisoned over the past 20 years. The oppression will not last much longer. The strength of the Eritrean people must come from God who alone can empower to forgive. To have lived under this oppression for this long means the Eritrean people are much stronger than you have concluded. Isaias has failed to overcome the spirit of the Eritrean people. He will soon be cringing before the judgement throne of the King of Heaven unless he repents. Please tell me how else I can help.

  3. Dear K Terry Brown,

    Firstly, my gratitude for your never ending concern for the Eritrean people in their hour of need. This is much appreciated.

    To directly answer “how else can I help the Eritrean people” question. I would suggest you ask for an immediate act of God. That is, you pray that God takes Isaias to the special place reserved for him in hell today. That may get me to start praying again – knowing God cares for the oppressed, raped, enslaved, arbitrary arrested, killed and mass exiled Eritrean people.

    I think we are on the same chapter albeit on different versus perhaps.

    1. I am praying that God will intervene because of His love for the oppressed as He did when Hezekiah humbled himself and cried to heaven and God cut off Sennacherib and his entire army. I pray that God will similarly deal with Isaias Afewerki. I have no doubt God loves the Eritrean people, that He has all power and authority AND that he understands your pain. He calls you to humble yourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from your wicked ways so that He will hear from heaven, and will forgive your sin and heal your land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) I am similarly charged regarding Canada.

  4. This Good Friday, as I remember Christ laying his life down to pay the penalty for us all – I am simply speechless.

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