Ethiopian healthcare a model for Africa

JOHANNESBURG - UNICEF reports that the world might not meet its goal to cut the rate of under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. The organisation says that if current trends continue the goal will not be reached until 2028.

If the world does not act now, 35-million more children could die from preventable diseases by 2028.

West and Central Africa has seen virtually no reduction in the annual number of child deaths since 1990.

But the news is not all bad.

From 1990 to 2012, the annual number of under-five deaths globally fell by half.

And Sub-Saharan Africa is among the best performing regions in the world.

The region has reduced mortality rates more than fivefold since 1990.

Eastern and Southern Africa are doing particularly well. Under-five mortality was reduced by an annual rate of 5.3 percent between 2005 and 2012.

A few low-income African countries such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, and Tanzania have already reached their targets - well ahead of the 2015 deadline.

One country in particular has surpassed all others - Ethiopia.

Despite a perception that Ethiopia is still recovering from the famine of 1980, the country is blooming.

Since 1990, Ethiopia showed a remarkable 67% reduction in the under-five mortality rate.

Political commitment has been key.

“I believe it is because of the right policies and strategies government has put in place that Ethiopia has started to register good progress in child mortality,” said Dr Kesetebirhan Admasu, the country’s minister of health.

Government has implemented a programme which saw 38,000 health workers trained and deployed across the country.

Initially some donors were doubtful.

“They said we don’t have the tools, don’t have the tutors to train these health extension workers in the time,” Admasu said.

But the programme was successful.

With the commitment of government, communities and individuals, the lives of millions of children and mothers across Africa can be saved.