Child mortality declining in Ethiopia but more progress needed – UNICEF chief

26 February 2007

Child mortality in impoverished Ethiopia has fallen over the past 15 years and steady development progress is being made in other areas as well, the visiting head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said, while stressing that more work is needed to build on these successes.

Child mortality in impoverished Ethiopia has fallen over the past 15 years and steady development progress is being made in other areas as well, the visiting head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said, while stressing that more work is needed to build on these successes.

Under-five mortality rates have steadily declined to 123 out of every 1,000 live births, down from peak levels in 1990 when 204 out of every 1,000 children died before the age of five. However with close to 400,000 children under five still dying from preventable causes each year, Ethiopia continues to have one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.

“Child mortality in Ethiopia has declined by 40 per cent in the last 15 years. We must build upon these gains to further improve the lives of children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, while highlighting the importance of the Government, affected communities, donors and UN agencies working closely together for development.

“Partnerships are essential for Ethiopia’s success against the challenges of poverty, disease, nutrition, protection and education. We must act with urgency and build on our achievements so that Ethiopia’s children not only survive, but thrive.”

The Enhanced Outreach Strategy for child survival – the largest ever collaboration between the UN and the Government of Ethiopia – and the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) campaign, are two examples of these partnerships.

Ms. Veneman’s trip to Ethiopia, which included visits to a commercial flower farm and a coffee cooperative, also saw her participate in the opening of the Plumpy’Nut factory in Addis Ababa, which is producing a ready-to-use-therapeutic food.

“Therapeutic foods such as Plumpy’Nut will help save the lives of severely malnourished children and help fight malnutrition across the country,” she said.