Title: Ethiopian Language Policy and Health Promotion in Oromia
Author: Begna F. Dugassa (Toronto Public Health, Toronto, Canada)
Published: Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare Vol.1, No.2, 2011, pp. 55-64
Keywords: public health, Ethiopia, health policy, health education, Oromia, colonial language policies
In the time of HIV/AIDS, epidemics for which we have no vaccination or cure, public health is bound entirely to depend on the traditional health education strategies to stop or contain this disease. This reality demands that we travel extra miles and thoroughly employ every health promotion tool at our disposal. The Ottawa Charter for health promotion stressed the need for public policy to create supportive social conditions for health. This necessitates a commitment to enduring social conditions for health and raises topics that have been neglected by the traditional public health scholars. A close examination of the colonial language policy of Ethiopia reveals that language is not value free and is intermingled with power and has significant public health impacts. In this paper, I critically examine Ethiopian language policy within the framework of health promotion and demonstrate the ways in which such policy creates a barrier for the Oromo people in making life choices. Additionally it hinders them from ensuring the conditions in which they can be healthy. This paper addresses a gap in the research literature on the impacts of colonial language policies on health promotion.