By Tsehaye Debalkew, June 20, 2012
In what could signify as a major honor and recognition to Ethiopia's unrelenting effort at the total transformation of its modus operandi, the global health community hailed Ethiopia's achievement in drastically shrinking the rate of child mortality which testifies to its commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals /MDG/set by the UN.
The foregoing recognition was reverberated by renowned personalities who attended the international forum summoned at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. which was co-sponsored, hosted and convened by the close collaboration of Ethiopia, India the US and the UN last week.
Dr. Tewedros Adhanom, Minister of Health who was on hand to address the august Forum dubbed" Child Survival, A Call to Action" by presenting Ethiopia's commendable score in reducing the rate of child death told the audience that" global under-five mortality has dropped 35% since 1990 and many countries, including Ethiopia, have achieved annual rates of decline above 5%. This achievement provides an opportunity to once again, re-energize all countries to give their all in this final sprint towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals", he underlined.
Dr Tewedros apprised the audience that ending preventable deaths is an inspiring objective which "enables us to start looking forward and far ahead into the future. It is a big challenge, to be sure. But let us not forget that even the MDGs were thought to be ‘too ambitious’. Yet today, so many countries are on track to achieving them", he categorically stated.
He further elucidated that in Ethiopia, some eight years ago, the nation proposed to produce 30,000 community health workers in three years, some thought he reminisced that it was a crazy idea!
Of course, we know today he added, "Our community-based Health Extension Program actually exceeded its target by training and deploying over 38, 000 health extension workers countrywide." In this regard the Minister said that it was the intrinsic bond with the overall health strategy that was designed that made "This program to actually be the key to our rapid progress on child survival in recent years."
He reiterated that the 2010 Demographic & Health Survey that the Ministry launched nationwide showed that under five mortality declined by half in just one decade. This is simply unprecedented for Ethiopia and is a clear evidence of "Our Government’s commitment and the strong support of our partners." he emphasized.
Dr. Tewedros in his moving keynote address stressed that "We believe that Ethiopia can ‘bend the curve’ on child survival, even faster, through increased efficiencies, improved quality of services, a growing and better-skilled health workforce, as well as a better-educated, healthier and more productive population. We have said ‘enough is enough’ to poverty and the needless suffering of our people. And given our current trajectory of progress we know that we are moving in the right direction" he positively underscored.
Secretary of State Rodham Clinton representing the US at the international convocation praised the Ethiopian and Indian governments for their efforts to reduce child mortality. She called upon everyone to take part in the noble mission that guarantees and paves the way towards ensuring the creation of a healthy world by saying that saving children's lives "cannot be just a job for governments," Clinton added.
During her speech Clinton announced that more than 60 faith-based organizations from 40 countries were joining the fight to end preventable childhood deaths through promotion of breastfeeding, vaccines and healthcare for children.
More than 80 governmental, civil society and business leaders addressed the conference and over 750 people attended the session at Georgetown University.