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African Leaders Meet in Ethiopia to Reduce Child Deaths

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (February 7, 2013) — High rates of preventable child disease and death persist, despite the existence of simple, inexpensive high-impact interventions in newborn, child and maternal health.

Leaders made a strong commitment to preventing child deaths, at the African Leadership for Child Survival: A Promise Renewed meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 16-18.

But scaling up such interventions on a national level is often a slow process.

A Promise Renewed


© UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose

UNICEF Chief of Health Dr. Mickey Chopra speaks at the meeting. The meeting was an opportunity for countries to learn from one other and apply the lessons in their respective country settings.

In June 2012, the Government of Ethiopia, together with India, UNICEF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), hosted the Child Survival Call to Action meeting in Washington, D.C. The conference called for governments and partners to sign A Promise Renewed, a pledge to work toward greater child survival. A Promise Renewed is part of the United Nations Every Woman Every Child movement launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Forty-six African nations are among the countries, civil society organizations and faith-based groups that have signed the pledge.

At the close of the June meeting, the Government of Ethiopia committed to hosting a follow-up meeting with African health ministers in January 2013, to coincide, roughly, with the African Union Summit.

Child Survival at Top of Agenda


© UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose

A health worker consults with a mother and baby at Mikawa Health Center in Aleltu Woreda, Ethiopia. Among other issues, the meeting focused on the scale-up of high-impact interventions such as skilled birth attendants, newborn care and stunting reduction.

Held in Addis Ababa from January 16–18, the meeting convened African Ministers of Health and deputy Ministers, peers and national, regional and global experts on child survival to ensure child survival is at the forefront of social development agendas across the continent and to renew the focus of African leaders to head their own countries’ efforts. Delegates from 20 African countries attended the meeting. Technical, logistical and communication support for the meeting was provided by USAID and UNICEF Ethiopia to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The meeting focused on issues related to child survival policy and the scale-up of high-impact interventions such as skilled birth attendants, newborn care, integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) and stunting reduction

Experts presented scientific evidence and entry points for the widespread adoption of evidence-based high-impact interventions and strategies for reaching children with the greatest need. Emphasis was placed on health systems and on overcoming barriers that may exist. 

The meeting was an excellent opportunity for countries to learn from one another and apply the lessons in their respective country settings. Ministry representatives had the opportunity to update their country-specific plans to accelerate progress toward reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

Consensus: A Brighter Future for African Children

On the third day of the conference, a consensus statement was presented by the delegates. It was jointly agreed that, to accelerate progress, the countries need targeted and effective implementation of high-impact interventions. It was stated that dramatic reduction in preventable child deaths can only be achieved through concerted action in five critical areas, as outlined in the Global Roadmap: Geography, High Burden Populations, High Impact Solutions, Education Empowerment/Economy Environment, and Mutual Accountability.

The participating countries declared, in the consensus statement, that they are committed to developing and implementing country-led roadmaps that integrate ongoing efforts to accelerate progress to end preventable deaths among children under 5 years of age by 2035, and reduce the mortality rate for children under five to below 20 per 1,000 live births in all African nations.

For more information on A Promise Renewed, click here.

Author: Sacha Westerbeek

Source: UNICEF

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