Category: "Health"

Ethiopia: U.S. Inaugurates New Regional Laboratory in Adama

February 2nd, 2013
Ato Abdulaziz Mohammed, Vice President of the State of Oromia, Donald Booth, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia and Dr. Tom Kenyon, CDC Ethiopia Country Director at the laboratory inauguration ceremony

U.S. Government Inaugurates New Regional Laboratory in Adama, Breaks Ground on Adama Medical College Out-Patient Annex, Valued at about $7 Million

US Embassy Press Release

Adama, Oromia - The first state of the art regional laboratory in Ethiopia, constructed by the United States Department of State with technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was formally inaugurated and handed over to the Oromia Regional State today. Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister for Health, Donald Booth, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, and Ato Abdulaziz Mohammed, Vice President of the State of Oromia, attended the inauguration ceremony.

The regional laboratory was constructed at a cost of USD $ 2.9 million (53 million Eth birr) and will serve a population of approximately 6 million in Oromia region. With an HIV prevalence of 1.0% and 224,093 people living with HIV and AIDS, the new laboratory is expected to increase health services and improve the lives of those in the region.

The new, modern two-story building includes structural elements which prevent the spread of infections such as a spacious work environment, mechanical ventilation, a back-up generator for the entire facility, and a walk-in freezer. It will also serve as a training site for laboratory professionals on the diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, ART monitoring and quality management system.

The construction of this laboratory is part of the U.S. government’s overall assistance to help strengthen the integrated laboratory services across the Ethiopian public health laboratory network. This new laboratory will provide easy access to affordable quality laboratory services for the prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and opportunistic and sexually transmitted infections.

In addition to attending the inauguration ceremony today, Dr. Kebede, Ambassador Booth and Ato Abdulaziz broke ground on the construction of a new out-patient department (OPD) annex for Adama Hospital Medical College. The people of the United States, through PEPFAR, have committed an additional USD $ 4 million for the construction of this new OPD annex. CDC-Ethiopia will provide oversight of the construction of this facility.

When completed, the OPD annex will have emergency units with examination rooms, a pharmacy and laboratory, and outpatient facilities including registration, data room, ultrasound room, labor and delivery suite, maternity ward, ART Examination and Pediatric ART rooms, among others. It will also have administration and training facilities.

Analysis: Tackling Ethiopia’s maternal deaths

January 31st, 2013
Photo: Kenneth Odiwuor/IRIN Experts are calling for functional health facilities (file photo)

Analysis: Tackling Ethiopia’s maternal deaths

Source: IRIN

ADDIS ABABA, 31 January 2013 (IRIN) - Ethiopia has made progress in lowering maternal mortality rates, but a weak health system means many women are still succumbing to preventable complications before, during and after childbirth.

Each year, an estimated 25,000 women die of complications during childbirth, and another 500,000 suffer long-term disabilities from pregnancy and childbirth complications, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

“There have been interventions, but the impact these have made has not been as significant. The health system is still very weak,” Luwei Pearson, chief of the health section at the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in Ethiopia, told IRIN.

“There must be efforts to ensure that health facilities are not just available but that they are also functional by, for instance, fitting them with electricity and piped water.”

According to a 2010 report, Ethiopia is one of five countries that together account for 50 percent of the world’s maternal deaths. In 2011, the country recorded 676 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, up from 673 in 2005. Ethiopia intends to bring this down to 267 by 2015.

The number of expectant mothers who delivered with the help of a skilled provider rose from 6 percent in 2005 to 10 percent in 2011, according to the 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS).

Curbing maternal death

Studies show that abortion complications, ruptured uterus, puerperal sepsis, postpartum haemorrhage and preeclampsia/eclampsia were the five major causes of maternal mortality in Ethiopia.

The government says it has established measures to curb maternal deaths, such as the use of a scorecard to measure the effectiveness of the health system for mothers and children.

“The scorecard is a very powerful tool… You can really track at facility, community, region and national levels. So it will also give you the opportunity to make sure that you have an equitable health service delivery system across the country and to try to address the disparities we have in different parts of the country,” Kesetebirhan Admassu, the health minister, said.

Ethiopia's health extension programme, through which the government has trained some 30,000 lay extension health workers, is also expected to improving women's access to skilled attendants during delivery.

So far, however, just 1 percent of expectant mothers deliver with the assistance of a health extension worker, according to the 2011 EDHS, largely because there are so few of them. According to the Ministry of Health, these workers each serve an estimated 2,500 people.

Rural areas

New approaches are particularly needed in rural areas, where 83 percent of the country’s 87.1 million people reside. While 45 percent of births in urban areas of Ethiopia are attended by skilled health personnel, this is true of only 3 percent of births in rural areas.

In these remote areas, women face a lack of adequate health facilities and harmful traditional practices - such as child marriage and female genital mutilation - that can increase risks during pregnancy and delivery. The underutilization of existing health facilities has made matters even worse.

“Reducing maternal deaths, especially in rural areas, will require not just medical care but a whole societal engagement. Significant would be reducing early pregnancies, early marriages, and ensuring that health facilities are accessible” UNICEF’s Pearson said.

A 2009 University of Addis Ababa assessment of the rural Tigray Region found that 80 percent of all maternal deaths happened at home, and 50 percent of these deaths were the result of delayed transportation to a health facility.

Many rural Ethiopians are still attached to traditional practices that normally accompany home births but are usually unavailable in health facilities. Pearson believes integrating some of these practices into the formal healthcare system would increase health facility deliveries.

“There are mothers who would want to, for instance, give birth in the presence of a neighbour or who would like a traditional coffee ceremony. These could be provided as a way of getting many mothers to deliver at hospitals,” she said.

Emergency and family planning services

Ethiopia could also greatly improve maternal health by increasing investment in emergency obstetric care. A 2012 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) study, conducted in Sierra Leone and Burundi, revealed that investing in simple and affordable emergency obstetric care had the potential to decrease maternal deaths by up to 74 percent.

Improved uptake of family planning services would also reduce the number of unwanted and adolescent pregnancies, in turn lowering maternal deaths. According to the 2011 EDHS, just 23 percent of women in rural Ethiopia had ever used a family planning method, compared to 53 percent in urban areas.

“We are optimistic that [the] goal [of reducing child and maternal deaths] is achievable… because we have seen Ethiopia achieve a more than 40 percent reduction in child mortality [among children] under five in the last five years. We have seen sub-Saharan African achieve a 39 percent reduction,” said Rajiv Shah, administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), one of Ethiopia's major maternal health partners.

"We now know that we have new technology, new vaccines, new data and new approaches to reach vulnerable populations in their communities, in rural and urban areas, targeting the poor in a way that can continue to deliver accelerated results.”

Ethiopian child on the mend after Sutter surgery for deadly brain tumor

January 24th, 2013

Ethiopian child on the mend after Sutter surgery for deadly brain tumor

By Dan Hill

Kalkidan Wondemu Sirbaro, a 7-year-old girl from Gurage, a village in southern Ethiopia, had a checkup at the Sutter Medical Center neuroscience facility in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday afternoon.

But according to the health professionals involved, it is miraculous Kalkidan made it to Sacramento to receive treatment for her craniopharyngioma, Kalkidan's form of cancer discovered in the fall.

"Things like this do not happen," said Dr. Sarah Jones, the Sutter family doctor from Davis who orchestrated Kalkidan's treatment. "There's something special about this child. Why would opportunities like this open up for her?"

Read more here:

Ethiopia to Push Health Scorecard for African Continent

January 12th, 2013

Ethiopia to Push Health Scorecard for African Continent

Marthe Van Der Wolf

VOA News

January 12, 2013

— The Ethiopian government wants a uniform health evaluation process to be introduced in all of Africa to help reduce child deaths. The idea will be recommended during an upcoming African Child Survival Conference.

One goal of the United Nation's millennium development project is to reduce the child mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa by two-thirds by 2015. So far the reduction has been 39%. Ethiopia stands out because it already has reached a 60% reduction in the mortality rate of children under five years old. The country is hosting a conference on child survival and will suggest ways to achieve a two-thirds goal.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, is a partner with the Ethiopian government on the project. USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah said he hopes all African countries will adopt a scorecard that publicly collects and reports health data.

“So we know where children are dying, what they are dying of and how we are making progress as efficiently and effectively as possible. Second we are asking every country to sharpen their country plans to focus on, in particular, low income children and communities and to reach them with the five, six most cost-effective and efficient interventions for savings children’s lives," said Shah. "In most countries that means tackling malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. But also other causes like neo-natal mortality.”

Effective in Ethiopia

The scorecard consists of three components: input indicators that relate to policy issues and availability of resources; process indicators; impact and outcome indicators that outline the data results.

Ethiopia Minister of Health Kesetebirhan Admasu said the scorecard has been introduced on all governing levels in Ethiopia.

“You can really track. If you see particular indicator rate indicator at the national level, you see which parts of the country are contributing for that indicator to be right at national level," Kesete said. "So it will also give you the opportunity to make sure that you have an equitable health service delivery system. We have to also try to redress the disparities we have in different parts of the country.”

The minister believes the scorecard can be adopted in all African countries.

Helping children

Sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind other regions of the continent in reducing under-five deaths. One in eight children in Sub-Saharan Africa still die before reaching their fifth birthday.

Ethiopia’s good results on improving health care coincide with a decade of rapid economic growth. Ethiopia also has received considerable financial aid from the West. USAID alone spent $985 million in the last three years in East African countries. But USAID is cutting the budget to Ethiopia by more than 50 percent for 2013.

Kesete said Ethiopia's health sector is focusing on mobilizing more domestic resources.

“One of the most important interventions that would help us to mobilize more resources is health insurance scheme that we are trying to put in place. We have done it in thirteen districts in the last two years and this year we have decided to scale it up to more than 100 districts across the country,” said Kesete.

Shifting dynamics

The African continent is changing fast in several ways through economic growth and urbanization. Shah said efforts to control diseases stay the same despite these changes.

“The predominant causes of death remain infectious disease. So until you have dramatically reduced children dying from malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and in the first 48 to 72 hours of life from a range of causes in that period, it would not be an efficient thing to do, to shift resources to higher order urban care if your goal is to save as many children’s life as possible,” said Shah.

All African health ministers are expected to attend the conference on African Child Survival in Ethiopia on January 16 thourgh 18.

ETHIOPIA: Concerns over HIV/AIDS funding cuts

January 9th, 2013
Mr. Thomas H. Staal, USAID/Ethiopia Mission Director during groundbreaking ceremony in Jaradado, SNNPR, to celebrate the beginning of its Ethiopian Health Infrastructure Program (EHIP). File Photo US Embassy

ETHIOPIA: Concerns over HIV/AIDS funding cuts

ADDIS ABABA, 9 January 2013 (PlusNews)
- Major projected cuts in US government funding for Ethiopia’s health sector could greatly undermine the progress the country has made in the fight against HIV, authorities and experts say.

“There’s an AIDS spending cliff in Ethiopia, and the government is already in free fall. Next year, Ethiopia will experience a 79 percent reduction in US HIV financing from PEPFAR [the US President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief],” wrote Amanda Glassman, a director at Global Health Policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Ethiopian government officials, however, told IRIN/PlusNews that, while they were concerned about the funding cuts, they had been expecting them.

“We are a bit concerned, but considering the current global financial crisis and the budget deficit in the US, we had anticipated this,” said Kesetebirhan Admassu, the new minister of health.

“Most of the cuts are going to be around softer programmatic activities that can be taken care of by mobilizing internal resources as well as using some innovative approaches like the health development army and so on,” Admassu added.

Steep declines

Aid to Ethiopia’s health sector would, according to the US government-run web portal, fall to US$171 million in 2013 from $390.6 million in 2012. A major cut would be felt in HIV/AIDS programmes, which would receive only $54.1 million, a dramatic cut from the $254.1 million allocated in 2012.

However, a US government official in Ethiopia downplayed the likelihood of such steep funding cuts in an interview with Capital, a local weekly newspaper.

“We don’t have a budget for 2013 right now… We are not seeing those major reductions. Even though the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is coming down, there are still over 800,000 [people] on ART [antiretroviral therapy]; those still require investments and being cared for,” Dennis Weller, the director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Ethiopia, told Capital, a local weekly paper.

But he did call for a transition from direct donor support to greater in-country funding for health programmes.

“Because we have been directly supporting health for so many years, the real focus now is transition to much more country ownership and looking at the sustainability of these investments. So things like health financing and community health insurance will be important,” he explained.

Growing government contribution

The government says it has done just that.

“If you look at the trend of government contribution, it is growing year by year. Our government has also passed a law and regulation to establish a social health insurance. So starting from the next budget year [July 2013] all employees will be covered with a social health insurance scheme,” Admassu said.

A recent report, however, warned that careful management of such a transition would be necessary to avoid creating gaps in areas such as “mentoring health centre staff now charged with ART delivery; prevention programmes to reach commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men; and programmes to benefit orphans and other vulnerable children on mass scale.”

According to UNAIDS, while Ethiopia has made significant strides in reducing new adult HIV infections, it has is yet to do so for new paediatric infections. Just 24 percent of pregnant women living with HIV receive ART to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

Between 2006 and 2011, Ethiopia received an estimated $1.4 billion from PEPFAR. Since 2004, Ethiopia has also received $1.23 billion from the Global Fund, making it one of the Fund’s biggest recipients globally.