• Embassy of Ethiopia

Ethiopia designated as an “excellent role model” for reducing child and maternal mortality

The Third Global Call to Action Summit 2015 for ending preventable child and maternal deaths was held on Thursday and Friday last week (August 27-28) in New Delhi, India. The Summit   designated Ethiopia as an “excellent role model” for reducing child and maternal mortality, and also identified India as another exemplar for ending preventable child and maternal deaths.

Dr. Keseteberhan Admasu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, delivered a key note address to the Summit, highlighting the method behind Ethiopia’s striking performance in terms of child survival and indeed the overall health of the people. He underlined the importance of healthcare reforms with community empowerment and ownership through the country’s flagship Health Extension Program (HEP) as well as the importance of the prevailing peace and stability in the country. He said these “spectacular improvements” achieved in the health sector were within the bounds of possibility as a result of sustained political commitment at all levels; innovative solutions to problems such as task-shifting; and the emphasis on building a resilient health system by leveraging domestic and international support. Ensuring equality of access to primary healthcare, coupled with the provision of key priority services and ensuring no one was left out, had, he said, also significantly contributed to this major milestone of achievement in eliminating preventable child and maternal deaths.

Dr. Keseteberhan renewed Ethiopia’s commitment to bring an end to all preventable maternal and child deaths. He stressed that redoubling efforts in mainstreaming unwavering political commitment, community ownership, and universal health coverage of high impact interventions would now be at the heart of consolidating the gains made during the Millennium Development Goals. This would accelerate progress towards ending preventable maternal and child deaths.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health has now developed a 5-year Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), setting ambitious goals to be achieved over the next five years to 2020. Dr Keseteberhan outlined the four of the transformational agendas involved. These covered ensuring "Quality and Equity" in health care; a “Woreda-Transformation" agenda; a Revolution in Information; and an agenda to cover Development of Caring, Respectful and Compassionate Health Professionals. Dr. Keseteberhan who urged the gathering to join together to end preventable maternal and child diseases within a generation, stressed the urgency to translate mothers' and children's rights into realities.

The two-day Summit brought together Health Ministers from the 24 priority countries that committed themselves to the Global Call To Action for Child Survival in June 2012, as well as State Health Ministers from India, international academic experts, health practitioners, and global leaders from diverse sectors. The meeting served as a lead-in to the United Nations Summit for the Adoption of the post-2015 Development Agenda that will be held as a high-level plenary session at the UN General Assembly later this month.

The Summit, taking note of the decisions of the New York Summit on the redefinition of goals to carry forward the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals), has enabled the 24 priority countries to take stock of progress, share best practices, and forge alliances for ending preventable child and maternal deaths. It also provided those countries with a platform to deliberate upon the importance of possible systems, partnerships, innovations, convergence, and evidence for ending all preventable maternal and child deaths.

The Summit concluded with the issue of a declaration which commended the progress made in reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality and recognizing the global partnerships, support and resources that had been mobilized to achieve these gains, and had saved over 100 million lives since 1990. The declaration took into account of the completion of the Millennium Development Goals by the end of the year, and the preparations to embrace a universal and transformative sustainable development agenda that left no one behind and ensured the health and well-being of all. This allowed those countries to commit to making measurable improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health through their respective country health plans. It also permits them to work together to ensure women, newborn, children, and adolescents will survive and thrive and transform their health care.

To translate these commitments into a reality, countries pledged to mobilize the increased resources needed to accelerate the progress made and support for the implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda. They also committed themselves to developing “a culture of evidence-based decision-making, strengthening accountability and aligning our resources to those with the greatest need.” They pledged that they would hold themselves “accountable to these commitments through regular monitoring of progress through this joint platform.”

The Summit for ending preventable child and maternal deaths was co-hosted by the Ministry of Health of the Government of Ethiopia and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India, India in association with USAID, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Tata Trusts.