Although Ethiopia has shown an impressive economic growth over the last seven years, one-third of its population remains poor. To achieve the MDG, an annual economic growth of 7 % is needed, and in the last years the growth has exceeded this critical figure.
A recent conference in Cape Town evaluated the performance of different countries, including Ethiopia, on achieving the MGD goals 1. The country is making some progress on indicators such as vaccination coverage and malaria control. Child mortality rates are declining, and HIV care is improving. Unfortunately, only 11% of the population have good access to emergency obstetric care, and the levels of stunting, an indicator of chronic malnutrition and poverty, is not declining. Tuberculosis case detection rates remain low.
One way to compare access to health services is to use the coverage index. The index uses some indicators for eight reproductive, maternal, newborn and child interventions. They include family planning, maternal and newborn health (at least one antenatal visit and skilled attendant at delivery), immunisations (measles, BCG and DPT3) and curative childcare (diarrhoea and pneumonia management: oral rehydration and continued feeding and care seeking for pneumonia). Unfortunately, there is still a 80% health coverage gap for most Ethiopians, and for the more wealthy part of the population, the coverage gap is still 60%, one of the worst in Africa.
Currently a new health sector plan is being approved. Although the details of this plan remains unknown to the public, the vision of the government is to transform Ethiopia to become a middle-income country in a few years after the end MDG 2015. The most concrete step that I have heard about is to improve access to essential health services by setting up primary hospitals to serve a population of 60 – 100.000 people . Each primary hospitals shall provide emergency surgical services focusing on Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care. Improved access and improved infrastructure would in theory enable the government to reduce maternal deaths.
Bhutta ZA, Chopra M, Axelson H, Berman P, Boerma T, Bryce J, Bustreo F, Cavagnero E, Cometto G, Daelmans B, de Francisco A, Fogstad H, Gupta N, Laski L, Lawn J, Maliqi B, Mason E, Pitt C, Requejo J, Starrs A, Victora CG, & Wardlaw T (2010). Countdown to 2015 decade report (2000-10): taking stock of maternal, newborn, and child survival. Lancet, 375 (9730), 2032-44 PMID: 20569843