A UNICEF immunisation campaign helps combat deadly outbreaks of measles and polio

By Elissa Jobson

Chou San Kote watches as her son Oratine Rase as he receives polio vaccination from Lemmi Kebede, supervisor of supplementary immunisation

Chou San Kote watches as her son Oratine Rase as he receives polio vaccination from Lemmi Kebede, supervisor of supplementary immunisation 24, June 2014 Pagak South Sudanese refugee reception centre, Gambela Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

GAMBELA, ETHIOPIA, 24 JUNE 2014 – At Pagak entry point, on the border between Ethiopia and South Sudan, a long line of parents and their children wait patiently in the intense heat of the refugee registration tent. They anxiously watch as four health workers swiftly administer life-saving vaccinations to the children ahead of them.

UNICEF, in conjunction with the Gambela Region Health Bureau, has rolled out a programme of vaccination for South Sudanese children seeking asylum in Ethiopia as a result of the deadly civil conflict currently raging in their home country. Since fighting began in December last year and the first refugees crossed into Ethiopia at the beginning of January 2014, UNICEF has helped vaccinate 91,785 children against measles and 74,309 against polio. A further 41,333 children have been given vitamin A supplements to help combat malnutrition.

“Registration and screening is done by ARRA (the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs) and UNHCR,” says Lemmi Kebede, supervisor of supplementary immunisation at Pagak entry point and Kule refugee camp. Priority, he adds, is given to pregnant women and lactating women with children less than six months old. “After registration, the children come to the vaccination point. Because levels of immunisation are low in South Sudan, eligible children are given vaccinations irrespective of whether they have had them in South Sudan or not. They are given an immunisation card which they take with them when they are transferred to the refugee camps,” Lemmi explains.

Health and nutrition

Meaza, a health professional gives a measles jab to a South Sudanese refugee baby being comforted by his mother in Pagak South Sudanese refugee reception centre. Gambela Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

Tesluoch Guak, just two and a half weeks old, is one of the beneficiaries of this programme. He cries as the health assistant gives him his measles injection. Despite her baby’s discomfort, his mother, Chuol Gadet, is pleased that Tesluoch is receiving his vaccination. “I understand that this is important for the health of my child,” she says.

So far, all the refugees have been willing to have their children immunised. “There is no resistance from the parents,” Lemmi confirms. “They are informed before they register as asylum seekers that their children will be vaccinated and why this is needed. There have been no refusals even though the parents haven’t previously received much health education. They have faced many challenges on the way to Ethiopia and they are open to our help.”

Chuol was heavily pregnant when she left her home in Malou county. She travelled on foot for days with her three children, aged 10, 7 and 4, to reach safety in Pagak where she delivered Tesluoch. Her husband, a solider in the government army, doesn’t even know that he has a new-born son. “The journey was hard for me. It wasn’t easy to find food and water. I don’t have words to express how difficult it was.”

The health situation of the newly arrived refugees is very poor. “In general, most of the asylum seekers are malnourished when they come from South Sudan. They have walked long distances without much food. Many have malaria and respiratory tract infections. They are really in a stressed condition,” says Bisrat Abiy Asfaw, a health consultant for UNICEF Ethiopia. This makes them highly susceptible to communicable diseases like measles and polio, he continues.

In February and March there was an outbreak of measles in Pagak – at the time more than 14,000 refugees were waiting to be registered and transferred to refugee camps within Ethiopia. UNICEF quickly rolled out a vaccination programme and helped ensure that children with signs of infection were quickly diagnosed, quarantined and treated.

“We were detecting new cases every day,” says Bisrat. “We tried to vaccinate all the children. We did a campaign on measles to increase and develop immunity within the refugee community.

The focus of the vaccination programme has been on the registration sites, although immunisation also takes place at the refugee camps. “Our strategy is to vaccinate the children as soon as possible after they enter the country, and that means working seven days a week. We are aiming for 100% coverage,” Bisrat says. And the strategy appear to be working. “The cases of measles has significantly decreased and we have had no reports of measles during the last 6 weeks,” Bisrat affirms.

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Global Hand washing Day (GHD) 2014 celebrated in Oromia, Ethiopia

By Kulule Mekonnen

Kimbibit woreda community welcomes participants of Global Handwashing Day participants colourfully with their decorated horses

Kimbibit woreda community welcomes participants of Global Handwashing Day participants colourfully with their decorated horses ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/ Sewunet

Global Hand washing Day celebrated colourfully in Garachatu School, Kimbibit woreda of Oromia region, Ethiopia. Oromia Region, having a population of 30.3 million has been celebrating Global Hand washing day since 2008. The community of Kimblt woreda gathered, by foot and horse, wearing traditional and colourful clothes to welcome government officials and invited guests to the school.

The annual Global Hand washing Day celebrations are occasions to emphasise the role of hand washing with soap in the prevention of common, but potentially lethal diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Ebola and many more. Hence many countries around the world are organising activities to promote the practice. The celebration was accompanied by joyful student poems, songs and dramas emphasising proper hand washing and horse-riding.

During the celebration Dr. Zelalem Habtamu, Deputy Head of Oromia Regional Health Bureau said ‘’We believe that we could prevent over 60 % of the communicable diseases by implementing proper environmental health interventions, hence this the reason why we focus on advocating proper hand washing practices at critical times.’’ Oromia region has made a marked progress in improving and advocating hygiene and deploying 13,000 health extension workers and 4.5 million health development armies.

Students of Garachatu School perform a play on the importance of handwashing

Students of Garachatu School perform a play on the importance of handwashing at the Global Handwashing Day celebration ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

Health Development Armies are one to five women network groups through which women community members meet regularly to discuss and solve public health, socio-cultural, environmental and economic issues of their interest.

Dr. Zelalem added “We are celebrating this year’s GHD in Garachatu School, with the school community and their families, with the intention of reaching every family, as we believe that students could carry on the positive hand washing behaviours learnt at schools to their families and their neighbourhood.”

Hand washing with soap removes germs from hands hence prevent infections as people frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it.  Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick. Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.  Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands. Removing germs through hand washing therefore helps prevent diarrhoea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.

Research shows hand washing education in the community reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 31 percent; diarrheic illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58 percent and respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 21 percent.

Figures released recently by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation say in 2013 more than 340,000 children under five – almost 1,000 a day – died from diarrheic diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. As the Ebola response takes its toll on the health services in the affected countries, the practice of hand washing is even more important in warding off these common diseases.

Participants washes their hands at the Global Hand washing Day celebration in Garachatu School, Kimbibit woreda of Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Participants wash their hands at the Global Hand washing Day celebration in Garachatu School, Kimbibit woreda of Oromia region, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

UNICEF works with the regional government and non-governmental organisations towards the attainment of improved and equitable use of safe drinking water, sanitation and healthy environments, and improved hygiene practices. And, emphasises capacity development to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water; eliminate open defecation and improve access to adequate sanitation; increase hand-washing and good hygiene practices; provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hand-washing facilities in schools and health centres with attention to the needs of girls.

W/ro Zewuditu Areda, Head, North Shewa Zonal Health Department in her speech emphasized “Proper hand washing prevents disease and saves lives, hence hands should be properly washed.”

The event was conclude by a demonstration of ten steps of a proper hand washing by Belay Techane, Kimbibit Woreda Health Worker.

Steps include

First hand should be rinsed and wet

Apply soap and thoroughly scrub hands and forearms up to elbow. Give special attention to scrubbing your nails and the space between your fingers

Rinse with generous amount of clean water flowing

Air-dry with your hands up and elbows facing the ground, so that water drips away from your hands and fingers

After the demonstration, all participants of the day practiced proper hand washing using soap as demonstrated by the health worker.

 

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One year on – South Sudan refugee children still in need of life saving support

Refugee girls, Nya Panom Makal, Nya Choul Makal and Nayakhor Gatluack pumps water at Burbie Refugees Reception Centre

Refugee girls, Nya Panom Makal, Nya Choul Makal and Nayakhor Gatluack pumps water at Burbie Refugees Reception Centre ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene 

GAMBELLA, Ethiopia – 15 December, 2014: While recognising the 1st year anniversary of the onset of the emergency response for South Sudan refugees in Gambella today, UNICEF appreciated the commitment and dedication of its partners and the generous contribution of donors who have played a key role in providing lifesaving assistance to refugee women and children at the border crossing points, in the refugee camps, and to vulnerable host communities.

Since the conflict started in South Sudan a year ago, more than 190,900 refugees have crossed the border into Gambella Region in Ethiopia. Over 90 percent of the new arrivals are women and children. From the onset of the emergency, UNICEF, in partnership with the Gambella Regional Government, Administration of Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR, have developed a multi-sectoral emergency response strategy to address the humanitarian needs of vulnerable host communities and refugees at the border crossing point and refugee camps.

“Despite tremendous challenges faced by women and children in the refugee camps and border crossing points, we would not have made a difference in the lives of women and children if it has not been for the profound support of our donors and partners,” said Ms. Anupama Rao Singh, Acting Representative of UNICEF. “UNICEF is appreciative of their continued support to critical humanitarian action including: the provision of immunisation, primary health care, nutrition surveillance and prevention and treatment of malnutrition, provision of safe water and improved sanitation, hygiene promotion, psychosocial support for children, family tracing, reunification and care of separated children, and providing a protective environment for learning,” she added.

A mother walks back to her temporary shelter after visiting a clinic

A mother walks back to her temporary shelter with her children after visiting a clinic ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

UNICEF wishes to recognise the continued support of the Government of Ethiopia and partners including, ARRA, the Gambella Regional Health, Water and Education Bureaus, Bureau of Women and Children Affairs, Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs and the Gambella Institute of Teacher Training. UN partners including IOM, UNHCR, WFP, and Non-Governmental Organisations including: Action Contre La Faim, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, CONCERN Ethiopia, Danish Refugee Council, Ethiopian Red Cross Society GOAL, International Medical Corps, International Red Cross, Lutheran World Federation, Médecins Sans Frontières, Norwegian Refugee Council, OXFAM, Plan International Ethiopia, Save the Children International, ZOA and others.

Some of the key donors that supported UNICEF in the emergency response include, but are not limited to: the Governments of, the United Kingdom, the USA and Finland as well as European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) and the UNICEF National Committees of the United Kingdom and US Fund for UNICEF.

UNICEF Ethiopia appeals for US$ 13.7 million to continue its life-saving emergency response for South Sudanese refugees in the Gambella region in 2015. With this funding, UNICEF and its partners will continue vaccinating children at the border crossing points and refugee camps, provide safe drinking water, basic hygiene and sanitation facilities, child protection and nutrition services, building learning spaces and provide teaching and learning material.

The scale of the crisis in the world’s youngest country is staggering. Since the violence erupted on 15 December 2013, almost 750,000 children have been internally displaced and more than 320,000 are living as refugees. An estimated 400,000 children have been forced out of school and 12,000 are reported as being used by armed forces and groups in the conflict. With traditional social structures damaged, children are also increasingly vulnerable to violence and to sexual abuse and exploitation.

 

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UNICEF: 1.1 million HIV infections in children averted since 2005

Lemlem, 20-years-old, with her 18-month-old son at the Saris Health Center in Addis Ababa

An estimated 1.1 million HIV infections among children under 15 have been averted, as new cases declined by over 50 per cent between 2005 and 2013, according to data released by UNICEF today ahead of World AIDS Day.

 This extraordinary progress is the result of expanding the access of millions of pregnant women living with HIV to services for the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT). These include lifelong HIV treatment that markedly reduces the transmission of the virus to babies and keeps their mothers alive and well.

“If we can avert 1.1 million new HIV infections in children, we can protect every child from HIV – but only if we reach every child,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.  “We must close the gap, and invest more in reaching every mother, every newborn, every child and every adolescent with HIV prevention and treatment programmes that can save and improve their lives.”

 The sharpest declines took place between 2009 and 2013 in eight African countries: Malawi (67per cent); Ethiopia (57per cent); Zimbabwe (57per cent); Botswana (57per cent); Namibia (57per cent); Mozambique (57per cent); South Africa (52per cent) and Ghana (50per cent).

Ethiopia is one of the 25 countries that reduced new HIV infections by 90 per cent from 135,000 in 2001 to 15,100 in 2013. On average, more than 11 million people per year have been reached with HIV testing and counselling as part of early treatment initiation efforts. People living with HIV who are accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART) have dramatically increased from 8,000 in 2005 to over 350,000 in 2014.  However, coverage of ART for children less than 15 years is only 23 per cent compare to 86 per cent for adults in 2014. 

In Ethiopia, mother to child transmission rate has also significantly reduced from 35 per cent in 2009 to 19 per cent in 2013. As of June 2014, over 19,000 pregnant women living with HIV received antiretroviral prophylaxis or treatment. Coverage of antiretroviral treatment for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) increased from 24 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2014. However, the country is behind the global goal of providing antiretroviral medicine to 90 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV.

Haregua Askale stands in her traditional bar waiting for customers

“UNICEF is committed to reducing the number of children born with HIV in Ethiopia by supporting the government innovative strategy of Heath Extension Workers and Health Development Army through demand creation intervention as a primary prevention. In 2014 alone, this strategy has resulted in 1.2 million pregnant women testing for HIV.” said Ms. Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF Acting Representative.

Overall, UNICEF contributed to the considerable progress made by the government of Ethiopia in improving PMTCT, including HIV testing for pregnant women, antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive women for Prophylaxis, CD4 test provision and HIV tests for infants born from positive mothers, and the roll out of the option B+[1].  Maternal ARV coverage for PMTCT has increased by 60.6 per cent in 2014, improving Ethiopia’s performance among the 22 PMTCT priority countries.

Despite the decline in HIV prevalence among young people, there is strong consensus based on evidence that girls and young women remain disproportionately vulnerable to HIV infection in Ethiopia. In this regard, UNICEF continues to provide support to the government of Ethiopia to address these issues. 

Disparity in access to treatment is hampering progress. Among people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries, adults are much more likely than children to get antiretroviral therapy (ART). In 2013, 37 per cent of adults aged 15 and older received treatment, compared with only 23 per cent of children (aged 0-14) – or less than 1 in 4. 

AIDS mortality trends for adolescents are also of significant concern. While all other age groups have experienced a decline of nearly 40 per cent in AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2013, adolescents (aged 10-19) are the only age group in which AIDS-related deaths are not decreasing. 

UNICEF’s Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS provides the most recent analysis of global data on children and adolescents from birth to 19 years of age.

To download a copy of the data update, excel spreadsheets, tables and graphs, please visit: www.childrenandaids.org

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40,000 run celebrating women in Ethiopia: 14th edition Great Ethiopian Run International 10km race colourfully staged 

Great Ethiopian Run held this year with a theme of "Empower Women, Empower a Nation"

Participants of the Great Ethiopian Run wear a t-shirt with the message “Empower Women, Empower a Nation” in Amharic printed on the back. 14th edition Great Ethiopian Run International 10km race colourfully staged in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

Partnering with the Great Ethiopian Run, the UN in Ethiopia promotes the importance of women empowerment during the 2014 Great Ethiopian Run in which 40,000 people have participated. The annual running carnival is Africa’s biggest 10km race and it continues to attract more people around the world year after year.

Representing the UN, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ethiopia, Mr Eugene Owusu opened the 2014 race together with H.E. Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representatives of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and other high ranking officials. UN Heads of Agencies and staff have also participated in the race.

This year, the lead message of the race “empower women, empower a nation” comes at a critical time when Ethiopia is preparing to report its remarkable achievements in meeting most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Dr Pierre M'pele-Kilebou, WHO Representative and world renown atheletes Haile Gebreselassie and Meseret Defar take group photo with winners of women mobility race.

Dr Pierre M’pele-Kilebou, WHO Representative and world renown atheletes Haile Gebreselassie and Meseret Defar take group photo with winners of women mobility race ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

The empowerment of women is a smart economics to achieve better economic growth. Sustainable economic development will only be achieved when the political, social, economic and health status of women is improved. Women empowerment is also about the elimination of all kinds of violence against them, and advancing gender equality and equity.

While it becomes apparent that Ethiopia is on track towards achieving many of the MDGs, those targets that are still lagging behind are the ones to do with women and girls namely, MDG 3 on women’s empowerment and MDG 5 of improving maternal mortality. It is therefore timely to call on everyone’s attention and seek the commitment of all towards the fulfilment of women’s empowerment by protecting their right to have access to opportunities and resources within and outside of their homes.

The UN in Ethiopia supports the Great Ethiopian Run annually not only to promote important social messages but also to raise funds to charities. Under the annual official fundraising campaign “Running for a Cause”, the UN and Great Ethiopian Run target to raise 1.4 million birr this year. The fund will be used for social protection and welfare programmes run by local charities that are selected by the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs. The UN also works with the Great Ethiopian Run to organise regional races in the regional capitals to promote the MDG goals.

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How can we redefine the world’s view to make the case for protecting girls?

My reflections on the Girl Summit, July 2014 
By Hannah Godefa, UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia 

Hannah Godefa, UNICEF National Ambassador for Ethiopia, speaking at Girl Summit 2014

Hannah Godefa, UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia, speaking at Girl Summit 2014 ©Marisol Grandon/DFID

The Girl Summit was a forum designed and hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF, to mobilize all world efforts to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and end child, early and forced marriage in my generation. It openly discussed issues of gender inequity and disparity and challenged public and non-profit sector leaders to create innovative solutions and commitments at the Summit. Closing this event was a surreal experience, and an absolute honour. When representing any demographic, there is a certain amount of responsibility to present the absolute truth of the issue. In this particular event, I had the incredible opportunity to echo the voices of the many girls around the world taking action in response to the calls to end the endless challenges for girls in education, health and the community, which further perpetuated harmful traditional practices. #Youthforchange hosted by UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening and Home Secretary Theresa May exemplified that spirit of change by having a youth-focused audience and engaging programmes. Important strategies such as school outreach were discussed, including a competition honouring schools that creatively used media as a method of presenting these vital issues.

It was then up to the many public leaders at the Girl Summit to respond. We heard from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, girl activists like Malala Yousafzai and various NGO’s to answer questions on financing for girls, ensuring equal access to education, and protection from FGM/C and child marriage. There were also discussions with likes of Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF and Deputy Minister of Ethiopia- H.E Ato Demeke Mekonnen. All who participated in the discussion recognized protecting girls was not only the right thing to do, but critical to our global future. Ending off the day in the closing plenary allowed me to re-state the importance for girl involvement and engagement in these discussions, to ensure girl voices are represented around the world.

Hannah Godefa, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, speaking at  Youth For Change

Hannah Godefa, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, speaking at Youth For Change ©Russell Watkins/DFID

As we all know, discussions among the public and private leaders are not enough. When we have the opportunity to make a difference anywhere, we should seize it, however special attention should be given to the issues girls face, as they are the foundation of our future. It is all in the facts: empowered and protected girls are able to form their families and communities and better contribute to our world socially and economically. The dialogue exercised at the Girl Summit cannot end there. It must manifest into commitments, be implemented into action and support this movement of rising girls around the world. Only then will we start to see a change in the way the world values girls. Girls are the mothers, community leaders and advocates of today. It all starts with a promise to champion for girls everywhere. If the way we view ourselves shapes our future, and our perspective influences how we invest our resources, the most important question is: how can we redefine the world’s view to make the case for protecting girls?

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Thousands more mothers, babies can be saved in Ethiopia

New Lancet Series finds major progress in improving survival for Ethiopia’s babies, but more can be done

Untitled
ADDIS ABABA: 24 November 2014: By 2025, Ethiopia could save as many as 76,800 mothers and babies each year if it continues its aggressive efforts to develop and implement effective strategies to improve maternal and newborn health. These estimates were released in Addis today at the Ethiopia launch of The Lancet Every Newborn Series 2014 and the Every Newborn Action Plan.

The authors of the Series say that while Ethiopia is one of the 10 countries with the highest numbers of neonatal deaths, it is currently ranked fifth in the world as having the greatest potential to save maternal, perinatal and neonatal lives by 2025. A systematic assessment of challenges in high-burden countries like Ethiopia, revealed that the most common barriers to improving survival were related to the health workforce, financing, and service delivery. By addressing these challenges, many lives can be saved in the next decade alone.

Yet far too many babies and mothers in Ethiopia still die from preventable causes with 84,000 babies dying before their first month, and an additional 78,400 who are stillborn. The major killers were prematurity, complications during child birth including trouble breathing, and severe infections, which together cause more than 80 percent of neonatal deaths. More than two-fifths of Ethiopia’s under-five deaths are among newborns.[1][2]

Mother feeding her child plumpy nut

Mother taking care of here baby boy. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2006/Getachew

Birth is the riskiest time for mothers and their babies, but there is an opportunity to accelerate progress towards ending preventable newborn and maternal deaths,” said John Graham, Country Director for Save the Children. “Our five-year research known as Community-based Interventions for Newborns in Ethiopia (COMBINE) shows community-based treatment of severe neonatal infections can reduce newborn deaths after the first day of life by as much as by 30 percent. This demonstrates investment in community-based newborn health programme will reduce newborn deaths and sustain the country’s remarkable achievements in tackling child deaths.”

The Series findings present the clearest picture to date of a newborn’s chance of survival in countries around the world and highlight the steps that must be taken to end preventable infant deaths. New analyses indicate that 3 million maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths can be prevented each year around the world with proven interventions—including the promotion of breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation, kangaroo mother care for preterm babies, and the prevention and treatment of infections.

These interventions can be implemented for an annual cost of US$1.15 per person. Providing quality care at birth yields a quadruple return on investment—saving mothers and newborns, and preventing stillbirthsand protects babies from disability.

“Newborn survival is as attainable as child survival, we know why and when newborns are dying,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, Representative a.i., UNICEF Ethiopia. “We also know what we need to do to reduce neonatal death. Investment on newborn survival has a promising return for future generations. The time to act is now.”2

Examination of new born at Wukro Clinic ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2009/Tuschman

Ethiopia is using the lifecycle approach to implement a number of high impact interventions to ensure newborn survival; this starts before pregnancy, through pregnancy delivery and the postnatal period. The country is currently revising the national newborn and child survival strategy taking the newborn survival agenda as central.

“There is tremendous opportunity and we know what needs to be done to ensure every Ethiopian mother and her baby have a healthy start,” said Dr. Gary L. Darmstadt, Lancet Series author and senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Countries that have made recent, rapid reductions in newborn and maternal deaths have done so by expanding the number of skilled health workers, rolling out innovative mechanisms to reach the most underserved families, and focusing on improving care for newborns.”2

“The success in Ethiopia is primarily due to political commitment and the introduction of our home grown innovative community health workers programme called the Health Extension Programme”, said Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister, Federal Ministry of Health.

Health extension workers are equipped with the skills and equipment to identify pregnant mothers early, conduct focused, antenatal care, facilitate skilled birth care, conduct postnatal home visits to identify complications in both mothers and newborns and take appropriate measures, including but not limited to the treatment of newborns with severe infections by using oral and injectable antibiotics when referral is not possible or acceptable by families. The Health Development Armies are supporting the 38,000 Government funded health extension workers in mobilizing communities to promote key healthy behaviors including early care seeking for newborns, children and mothers.

[1] The Lancet Every Newborn Series

[2] United Nations Inter Agency Group for Mortality Estimate, 2014 Report

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