Friday, July 7, 2017
How health workers are reducing under 5 deaths in Ethiopia.
How health workers are reducing under 5 deaths. What does this chart mean? First, that descending red line captures one of the most amazing stories of human progress: It shows how the number of deaths of children under 5 per year has been cut in half since 1990. Second, hidden along that line are millions of stories of the incredible work being done by health officials, governments, donors, and parents around the world to help save all those lives. Here’s one of those stories. It begins with some remarkable women in Ethiopia and they are part of an innovative program that’s improved the health of millions of children in their country. Back in 1990, Ethiopia had one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world. One in five children were dying before their 5th birthdays. With few doctors and most of its population living in rural areas, Ethiopia struggled to provide basic health services to the country. Most women in rural areas gave birth at home. Then in 2000, the Ethiopian government made a commitment to improve its healthcare system. Ethiopia signed on to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which focused the world’s attention on fighting disease and ending poverty by using data to measure progress on health and development progress. As part of the goals, Ethiopia pledged to reduce under-five death rates by at least two-thirds by 2015. To achieve it, Ethiopia needed to find an effective way to deliver healthcare to the remotest corners of the country. But training thousands of new doctors to staff them would take years and would be extremely costly. Instead, Ethiopia created a community health worker program. They selected thousands of people, primarily young women with at least a 10th grade education, and trained them in a set of basic health skills—including how to deliver babies, administer immunizations, and provide family planning support—that are proven to save lives. Most of the health workers were recruited from the communities they served, helping to quickly build public trust in the new effort. more