Simple, Cheap Health Remedies Cut Child Mortality In Ethiopia
Poor countries are starting to realize something that richer ones sometimes forget: Basic, inexpensive measures can have dramatic impacts on the health of a country. And they can save thousands of lives.
Take, for instance, the situation in Ethiopia.
The country used to have one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world.
"If you were a kid born in 1990 [in Ethiopia], you had a 1 in 5 chance of not surviving to your fifth birthday," says Peter Salama, who directs UNICEF's efforts in Ethiopia.
Since then, the country has improved that survival rate by about 60 percent. "So [Ethiopia has made] a tremendous achievement in the space of two decades," Salama says.
This progress isn't a result of expensive international aid or the recruitment of foreign doctors into Ethiopia. Instead, the country has invested in simple, bare-bone clinics scattered around the country, which are run by minimally-educated community health workers.
Ethiopia to help train Namibians
By Theresia Tjihenuna
Source: The Namibian
NAMIBIA and Ethiopia on Wednesday signed an agreement for health training programmes for Namibian health professionals, including doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and paramedics.
The agreement was signed by the Ethiopian Health Minister Kesetebirhan Admasu and his Namibian counterpart Richard Kamwi in Windhoek.
As part of the MoU, the parties agreed that the Ethiopian government will provide Namibia with health professionals, experts and health-related tutors as well as to continue providing scholarships for an agreed number of Namibian students to Ethiopia.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Kamwi said the two countries have similar health challenges of maternal deaths and communicable and non-communicable diseases, and it is only imperative that they learn from each other.
“We face the same challenges in the areas of communicable diseases such as HIV-AIDS, TB, diarrhoea, and childkiller diseases. This is in addition to the emerging non-communicable lifestyle diseases such as prostate, breast and cervical cancer, maternal mortality and malnutrition,” he said. He also said the shortage of health workers of all categories in the countries was critical and that it was difficult to attract and retain health professionals in rural areas.
Kamwi said government has been gradually shifting resources to the disadvantaged regions, focusing on promotive, preventive and basic curative services provided by health centres, clinics, outreach services and community-based health care. “We currently have both public and private health sectors providing health services in the country, however, the collaboration between the two sectors needs to be strengthened,” he said.
The Ethiopian government, he said, under its ministry of health, assisted Namibia with piloting the Health Extension Workers’ Programme in the Kunene Region where 40 workers were trained.
The role of the extension workers is to promote disease prevention in communities, promote hygiene, sanitation and immunisation and perform maternal and child health assessments. Admasu said his country was winning the war against the health challenges it faced and that it was prepared to transfer the same health strategies to Namibia.
According to Kamwi, health extension programmes were rolled out in five regions with the assistance of the Ethiopian government, namely the Zambezi, Kavango, Ohangwena, Omusati and Kunene.
“A total of 565 Health Extension Workers are currently undergoing training in those regions this year,” he said.
He said the Kunene pilot project was sponsored by Unicef and the EU, with the training of six months offered by the government of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia: Gift of Sight: US Doctor's $11 Fix for Epidemic
Forty million people worldwide live in total darkness and 90 percent of them live in the developing world.
However, three out of four such cases are reversible, according to Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, director of the division of international ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center.
Tabin spends a large part of the year traveling around the world restoring sight to thousands of people with cataract blindness.
ABC News joined him on a recent trip 8,000 miles from Tabin's home in Park City, Utah, to Ethiopia, which has one of the highest rates of blindness in the world.
Battling brain drain: Training doctors in Ethiopia
Brain drain is so severe in Ethiopia that the nation's health minister has complained there are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than in his own country.
The good news is that the East African nation has one of the world's fastest-growing economies and is recovering from the nightmare decades of civil war and famine. Tackling the health care crisis is high on the priority list of the government, which has opened 13 new medical schools in the last two years. But training the doctors is still a huge challenge.
One physician who is playing a key role in Ethiopia's bold medical initiative is Senait Fisseha, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan. She's leading a U-M effort to develop a postgraduate training program for doctors of obstetrics and gynecology that is fast-becoming a national model for Ethiopia.
Fisseha said that U-M has learned from its work in other African nations—especially Ghana—that one of the best ways to retain medical talent is to offer doctors training and other opportunities to advance their careers.
UNICEF: In Ethiopia, a far-reaching health worker programme has helped reduce child mortality across the countrySeptember 12th, 2013
UNICEF: In Ethiopia, a far-reaching health worker programme has helped reduce child mortality across the country
The 2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed shows that major progress has been made in lowering child mortality in all regions of the world and at all levels of national income. Nonetheless, even bigger gains are needed if the world is to meet Millennium Development Goal 4 – reducing under-5 mortality by two thirds by 2015.
UNICEF’s Web series on A Promise Renewed focuses on some of the successful and innovative programmes that have helped save the lives of millions of children around the world.
In Ethiopia, the effort to deploy health workers to even the most remote parts of the country has helped bring about a steep reduction in child mortality.
GAMBELLA, Ethiopia, 13 September 2013 – For a country that once made headlines for famine, poverty and war, Ethiopia is gaining a reputation as a development leader on the African continent. In just over 10 years, the country has slashed child mortality rates by half, rising in global rank from 146 in 2000 to 68 in 2012. More money is being spent on health care, poverty levels and fertility rates are down, and twice as many children are in school.
Even in remote parts of the country, such as the Gambella region near the border with South Sudan, more children are thriving beyond their fifth birthday, and their parents are having fewer children.
It all means that Ethiopia appears set to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The steep decline in child mortality and increase in smaller, healthier families may come as a surprise to some, but not to Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu. He credits the turnaround to a mixture of targeted policies and the 38,000 health extension workers the Government has deployed throughout the country, trained, equipped and supported by UNICEF.
“Our government has a policy of reaching the hard-to-reach parts of the country and focusing on prevention of disease, health promotion and transferring responsibility to individual families,” he says. “To do that, we designed a community health extension programme, our flagship programme.”
Dr. Kesete believes the community health workers have led the way to achieving major reductions in child and maternal mortality. And he adds that Ethiopia’s advances demonstrate that even poor countries can deliver for children. “With commitments of governments and the community, it is really possible to make a difference and to save the lives of millions of children and mothers across Africa,” he says.
On the ground, the results are evident. The village of Okura lies on the Baro River in southwestern Ethiopia. During the rainy season, the village is largely cut off, accessible only by river transport. But now people get help from one of their own, a community health extension worker whose job is to check immunization records, test for diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria, and monitor hygiene in homes. There are also certificates awarded for ‘model homes’ – households that adhere to good health habits like washing with soap and using insecticide-treated bed nets.
The family in one model home has seen the benefits since the programme started. Ariet Nyignio, a 22-year-old mother, explains, “The reason why the sons of my father died is because at the time there was no health facility, but now there is a health centre, health post, and health extension workers are more caring, so for each person who goes there, they will get attention, they will get medicine.”
“Before, a lot of under-5 children used to die because of the lack of knowledge about health,” says Getachew Wako, a UNICEF Immunization Officer. “Now I need to educate and change this community to reduce the deaths and sickness of children under 5 years.”
“Ten years ago, we used to see five under-5 children per household. Now a lot of people are using family planning,” Dr. Wako says. “I never thought this change would come five years ago. The reason why this happened was because of massive involvement by the community.”
With Ethiopia leading the pack, African leaders made a strong commitment earlier this year to prevent child deaths, putting child survival at the forefront of social development agendas across the continent and renewing the focus of African leaders to head their own countries’ efforts. Sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for the majority of child deaths, however, and high rates of preventable child disease and death persist, despite simple, affordable and high-impact interventions.
The pledge in Addis Ababa was to develop and implement country-led roadmaps that integrate efforts to end preventable deaths among children under 5 by 2035, and reduce the mortality rate for children under 5 to below 20 per 1,000 live births in all African nations.
A Promise Renewed is a movement based on shared responsibility for child survival, and is mobilizing and bringing together governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals in the cause of ending preventable child deaths within a generation. The movement seeks to advance Every Woman Every Child — a strategy launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to improve the health of women and children — through action and advocacy to accelerate reductions in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.
Since its launch, 176 governments have signed the Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed pledge, and thousands of civil society groups and private individuals have mobilized actions and resources in support of the goal. A diverse array of governments are setting bold new targets for maternal, newborn and child survival, while, around the world, civil society is increasingly holding governments accountable for their promises, facilitated by new communication technologies and tools.
A Promise Renewed recognizes that leadership, commitment and accountability are vital if we are to end preventable child deaths. And because child survival is increasingly recognized as a shared responsibility, everyone has a role to play.