ADDIS ABABA – China has contributed a million U.S. dollars to improve the quality of health care provided to newborn babies in Ethiopia, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The fund is part of a larger, 8 million US dollars grant that the Chinese aid agency China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) has made to eight African countries to improve their maternal and neonatal health services.
The grant to Ethiopia will improve the quality of health care for newborn babies through competency-based training and mentorship of health practitioners and tailored provision of equipment, said Unicef, which helped to negotiate the grant.
“We are delighted with this grant as it will go a long way towards improving the quality of health care provided to some of the most remote and disadvantaged communities in Ethiopia,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia.
The grant will support UNICEF’s ongoing project in various districts in the SNNP and Tigray Regions selected by the Ministry of Health because they are among the poorest and difficult-to-reach.
It aims to improve quality of services provided through newborn intensive care units, integrated management of newborn and childhood illnesses, community-based newborn care, and clinical mentorship.
“Improving quality health care around the time of birth and providing special care for sick and small newborn babies is absolutely essential to saving babies,” said Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health.
“This requires well-trained, well-supported and well-equipped health workers, including midwives in delivery rooms and neonatal nurses in neonatal intensive care units,” Dr. Lia said.
“It also requires availability of appropriate treatments for neonatal sepsis, including essential commodities.”
The grant comes against a backdrop of progress in reducing child deaths in Ethiopia.
In 1990, 222 children out of a thousand were dying before their fifth birthday.
By 2019, the number had declined to 55 deaths.
Despite this reduction, deaths of newborn babies have remained stubbornly high, with 100,000 dying every year and accounting for 55 percent of all under-5 child deaths.