For a country that once made headlines for famine, poverty and war, Ethiopia is gaining a reputation as a development leader on the African continent. In just over 10 years, the country has slashed child mortality rates by half, rising in global rank from 146 in 2000 to 68 in 2012. More money is being spent on health care, poverty levels and fertility rates are down, and twice as many children are in school.
Even in remote parts of the country, such as the Gambella region near the border with South Sudan, more children are thriving beyond their fifth birthday, and their parents are having fewer children.
It all means that Ethiopia appears set to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The steep decline in child mortality and increase in smaller, healthier families may come as a surprise to some, but not to Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu. He credits the turnaround to a mixture of targeted policies and the 38,000 health extension workers the Government has deployed throughout the country, trained, equipped and supported by UNICEF.
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