ADDIS ABABA — The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, says Ethiopia has achieved one of the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality by more than two-thirds.
Ethiopia reduced its under-five mortality rate by 67 percent between 1990 and 2012, meeting the target for one of the Millennium Development Goals on child survival. The announcement came after UNICEF released its latest report on child survival Friday.
Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu welcomed the positive results, but admitted that despite the improvements Ethiopia is still considered a high-mortality country:
“If you look at the absolute number of children dying in Ethiopia, it is still huge. We have committed to end all preventive child deaths in a generation by 2035. And we have developed a roadmap to reach that ambitious target," said Admasu.
Diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria are the leading causes of death among young children in Ethiopia.
In 1990, the country's mortality rate for children under five was one of the highest in the world at 204 per 1,000 births.
That rate now stands at 68 per 1,000, meaning hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian children who might have died in earlier years now reach their fifth birthday.
Ethiopia is one of four African countries, next to Tanzania, Liberia and Malawi, to already have achieved the Millennium Development Goal.
One of the reasons Ethiopia has done so well is because of its Health Extension Program, through which 38,000 health workers were employed all over the country providing health care services to a large part of the rural population.
UNICEF representative to Ethiopia Peter Salama said that Ethiopia’s approach can serve as an example for other countries:
“Several other African countries have come to do study tours, including delegations from Togo, Guinea, Namibia - all came to study the health extension program and see how they can replicate this critical lesson of bringing health care to the doorstep of the rural population," said Salama.
Progress on the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality is slow in most countries, with only 13 out of 61 countries on track.
The Millennium Development Goals were introduced in 2000 by the United Nations, focusing on issues such as fighting extreme poverty.