Ethiopia Cuts Child Death Rate by Two-Thirds

    22 October, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    The United Nations Children's Fund is praising Ethiopia for reaching one of the Millennium Development Goals on child survival. UNICEF officials say Ethiopia has reduced its number of child death by more than two-thirds.
     Between 1990 and 2012, the country reported a 67 percent drop in the number of children dying before the age of five.

    Ethiopia's Minister of Health Kesetebirhan Admasu welcomed the good news, but he admitted that even with the improvement Ethiopia is considered a high-mortality country.

    "If you look at the absolute number of children dying in Ethiopia, it is still huge. We have committed to end all preventable child deaths in a generation by 2035. And we have developed a roadmap to reach that ambitious target."

    Diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria are the leading causes of death among young children in Ethiopia. In 1990, the country's death rate for children under five was one of the highest in the world, it was 204 deaths for every 1,000 births.

    The rate is now at 68 per 1,000, this means that hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian children who might have died in earlier years now reach their fifth birthday.

    Ethiopia is one of four African countries to have reached a Millennium Development Goal, the other three are Liberia, Malawi and Tanzania.

    One of the reasons for Ethiopia's success is its Health Extension Program, because of it, 38,000 people were employed to bring health care services to a large part of the rural population.

    Peter Salama is UNICEF's representative to Ethiopia. He says Ethiopia's plan of action can serve as an example for other countries:

    "Several other African countries have come to do study tours, including delegations from Togo, Guinea, Namibia - all came to study the health extension program and to see how they could replicate this critical lesson of bringing health care to the doorstep of the rural population."

    The United Nations first announced the Millennium Development Goals 13 years ago, the goals were meant to help countries pay more attention to issues such as fighting extreme poverty.

    Progress on the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child deaths is slow in most countries, only 13 of 61 countries are in a position to meet the goal.

    And that's the Health Report from VOA Learning English. You can watch our captioned videos at the VOA Learning English channel on YouTube. You can also visit our website at to find transcripts and audio of our shows. I'm Faith Lapidus.