Multi- sectoral investment is crucial to addressing women and children’s health, stated Tedros Adhanom, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) 2014 Forum held from June 30th to July 1st in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Investment in agriculture, education and infrastructure is very important for the development of healthcare. For example, girls’ education is a strategic investment to reduce fertility significantly,” he said.
In Ethiopia, the net enrollment is close to 90 percent for girls, according to the minister. Investment in agriculture is another way to better health in the country he also added.
Ethiopia was included in the list of ten countries that have shown success in women’s and children’s health. According to the success factor fact sheet, Ethiopia has achieved a 47 percent drop in under-five mortality since 2000. This was possible through interventions to treat the most important causes of child mortality, such as immunizations and quality care at birth and improved socioeconomic conditions.
Ethiopia has also made progress in improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, expanding road infrastructure and increasing access to primary and secondary education. But, the country still has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world at 676 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Capital spoke to Christopher Elias who is the President of Global Development at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who stated that Ethiopia faces challenges as it is a big country and geographically dispersed and predominantly rural.
“Your challenge in an isolated population and complex geography, that makes emergency care challenging. We often talk about three delays; the first delay is not recognizing you have a risky situation that requires referral. The second delay is transportation and then the third delay is when once at a hospital you don’t get timely care,” he stated.
Elias also underlined on the importance of investing in agriculture and its relation in to bettering mother’s and children’s health.
“There are a few ways that investment in agriculture leads to better health; one is more productivity means more disposable income for families. We know that when women have extra money, they invest it in their children, education and health,” he stated.