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Ethiopia Beats Odds to Reach MDG 4 Early
Last week, the United Nations Children'sFund (UNICEF) released its 2013 progress report Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The report details trends in under-5 mortality over the past two decades. It also provides highlights and statistics of the work that has already been to date. The big news in the report is that despite overwhelming odds, Ethiopia has already achieved the Millennium Development Goal 4 Target A: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-5 mortality rate. This is worth celebrating given that the country faces a number of challenges, including a severe shortage of doctors and health professionals. For instance, with a population of over 80 million, there is one doctor for every 36,000 people. Additionally, Ethiopia is one of the 34 countries that account for 90% of the global burden of malnutrition.
Ethiopia's tremendous progress on MDG 4 has been made possible by its political commitment at the country level and external support, which have enabled use of innovative programs like frontline health extension workers within communities.
Photo credit: USAID
Other examples of country progress highlighted in the report include:
- In Bangladesh, under-five mortality rate decreased by 72 per cent from 1990 to 2012, mainly thanks to expanding immunization for children, delivering oral rehydration therapy to treat diarrhoea, and providing Vitamin A supplementation. Expanding a network of community health workers also improved the quality of healthcare and led to an increased use of health facilities. Women’s empowerment, education for mothers, improving mothers’ health and implementing strategies to reduce poverty also contributed to reducing child deaths.
- In Brazil, under-five mortality rate decreased by 77 per cent between 1990 and 2012, thanks to a combination of tactics. These include efforts to deliver healthcare at the community level, improvements in sanitation conditions, providing mothers with knowledge, promoting breastfeeding and expanding immunization.
a co-sponsor of the Call to Action, has recorded tremendous gains in
reducing the under-five mortality rate, with a dramatic 67 per cent reduction
since 1990. The health extension program implemented in Ethiopia is one example
of how critical community health workers are providing quality care to children
and mothers in remote areas. The program which was launched in 2004 currently
deploys 38,000 government-paid female health extension workers. UNICEF supports
the program by providing supplies including vaccine storage equipment, delivery
beds and medications, and supporting training for health workers. The program
also provides treatment of severe acute malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and
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