A Global H4+ Mission team paid a visit to Ethiopia between 17 and 21 August to assess progresses made on maternal and newborn 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 interventions were supported through funding from the Swedish Government.
The Global H4+ Mission team composed of Dr. Hemant Dwivedi and Dr. Ayotunde Adegboyega held an extensive discussion with officials of the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, the Heads of the UN H4+ Agencies, members of the technical work group of this initiative and key stakeholders. The mission team learnt on the progresses made and the challenges encountered in the past two years with interventions that have been funded by the H4+.
In their two day field excursion to the Oromiya Region on 18 and 19 August, the Global H4+ Mission team, accompanied by Heads of UN H4 + Agencies, visited maternal, newborn and gender programs at health institutions. They visited two hospitals and three Health Centers to see the impact of the programs. The mission team was briefed about the programs and shown around the facilities by health professionals. They were able to see a BEmONC training center, an advanced newborn care unit and briefed on the Integrated Emergency Surgery and Obstetric services. The mission team also got a briefing on how gender is being mainstreamed into health services, the PMTCT mother-baby- pair cohort, the fistula care, anesthesia and midwifery program, and the Maternal Death Surveillance and Response initiative.
The members of the Global H4 + Mission team sharing their impression at the end of the mission lauded the government leadership and investments made to build a resilient health system in the country to improve maternal and newborn health. They appreciated the focus given in 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 programs. While appreciating involvement of communities in support of the programs, the mission team recommended a more proactive engagement of communities to promote ownership and sustain the gains made.
At the debriefing meeting with the Global mission team, Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister of the Ministry of Health, noted that the mission was vital in highlighting the areas where the government needed to focus in the coming years in improving maternal, newborn and child health. He assured the mission team that the Ministry of Health would continue working on facility expansion, training of health personnel, and put 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.
It is to be recalled that the Government of Sweden signed a two-year agreement with the Government of Ethiopia and the UN H4+ Agencies in 2013 to fund programs on maternal and newborn child health to support the country achieve MDG targets.