Source: All Africa
The exceptional leadership of the government in the efforts to improve maternal and new-born health was commended by the UN H4+ Global Team mission that visited Ethiopia from 17-21 August 2015.
The team assessed progresses made on maternal and new-born health as a result of interventions supported in the past two years by UN H4+ agencies - UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNWOMEN, and WHO - with the government of Ethiopia.
The H4+ work to improve the health of women and children, accelerate progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 - reducing child mortality and improving maternal health - and sustaining achievements already made. The H4+ agencies serve as the lead technical partners for the United Nations Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.
Heads of UN H4+ agencies and the Ministry of Health led a high level delegation accompanying the H4+ Global Team on a two-day mission to Oromia Region on 18 and 19 August to visit health facilities in Bishoftu and Asella. The delegation, also composed of partners such as Jphiego, the Ethiopian Pediatrics Society and the Ethiopian Midwives Association, visited maternal, new-born and gender programmes at health institutions supported by the H4+. The delegation observed a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a New-born Corner, a Basic Emergency Obstetrics and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) training center, a Fistula Center, use of a an innovative single register for mothers and babies on follow up for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), aiming to ensure coherent mother-baby follow up, and the implementation of maternal death surveillance and response (MDSR).
The delegation highly appreciated the government's leadership and investments made to build a resilient health system in the country to improve maternal and new-born health. They commended the focus of the country's Health System Transformation Plan on equity, quality of care and accountability and commended the strong dedication of the health workforce. They also commended the various good practices they observed in the implementation of the programmes. While appreciating involvement of communities in support of the programmes, the mission team recommended a more proactive engagement of communities to promote ownership and sustain the gains made.
At the debriefing, State Minister of Health Dr. Kebede Worku noted that the mission was vital in highlighting the areas where the government needed to focus in the coming years in improving maternal, new-born and child health. He assured the mission team that the Ministry of Health would continue working on facility expansion, training of health personnel, reviewing staff mix in health facilities and putting in place strong regulatory mechanisms to ensure equity and quality of care. He indicated that community ownership would be one of the pillars of this commitment. He also commended the H4+, saying, "The H4+is a good platform for joint UN support, and can be modelled for other areas as well."
The Heads of UN H4+ Agencies reiterated their commitment during the occasion to continue working with the government around the H4+ initiative. Speaking on behalf of the H4+, Dr Pierre M'pele, WHO Representative, said, "Beyond the tremendous program support it provides, the H4+ will also help the UN in exemplifying UN coordination and joint implementation," and, "The experience we gain and lessons we learn through the H4+ will be a UN legacy."
Since 2014, the Government of Sweden has been supporting H4+ programmes on maternal and new-born child health to support the country achieve MDG targets. Ethiopia has achieved MDG 4 three years ahead of target, and H4+ will continue to support the Government of Ethiopia towards the achievement of MDG 5.