What We Are Doing

Ethiopia hosts the Race for Survival in Afar regional state 26 Oct 2015

Written by Thomas Lulseged, Communications Manager, Save the Children in Ethiopia

Save the Children’s annual Race for Survival event took place in Semera, the capital city of Afar National Regional State on the 20th of October 2015. A consultative side meeting to discuss on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) was also held earlier on 19th of October 2015. 

The Race for Survival event took place with the interim president, cabinet members and senior officials of the Afar National Regional State present.  Residents of Semera city also cheered on the day as the event took place.  More than 240 children from eight different primary schools of the region participated in the Race for Survival relay demanding more action to end preventable child deaths by 2030.

John Graham, Save the Children Country Director in Ethiopia in his welcoming speech noted that the Afar Regional State has made a great progress in saving the lives of mothers, newborns and children. John also stated that the Afar Regional State and Save the Children recognize together there are still many challenges. “Today is one way to bring awareness to the many challenges and to continue and build our efforts to do even more,” he added.

Mr. Graham pledged to continue working with the region to improve the health service so that mothers will not die giving birth and newborns will survive the first 28 days as well as reduce under nutrition dealing with the impact of stunting which affect 49% of children in the Afar region.

Awwal Arba, the Interim President of the Afar National Regional State, in his opening speech noted that Ethiopia’s protective health policy with a support from partners like Save the Children has helped the country to achieve MDG4, reduce child mortality, two years earlier than the intended time 2015. It has reduced child mortality of under-five from 205 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 64 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2013.

Awwal also noted that the deaths of newborns however are still high despite a decline from 55 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 28 deaths in 2013.  “This implies that we weren’t able to decrease the death of newborns in the expected level and it needs a concerted effort of all actors working on maternal and child health,” the President added.

The side meeting on MNCH also brought the situation of mothers, newborns and children in the region and made a very important discussion.

In the consultative side meeting organized to discuss the issue of mothers, newborns and children in the Afar region, the head of regional health bureau, representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, civil society organizations and the media have participated.  The Afar Region Health Bureau head Ali Hussen expressed his appreciation to Save the Children for organizing such an important and timely consultative meeting in Semera in the presence of government and non- governmental stakeholders.

Mr. Ali also noted that over the last few years, there has been a concerted effort by the Ethiopian government and non- governmental organizations to improve the health services provision in pastoral areas. “As part of its commitment to improving basic health service, the government has launched the health extension program (HEP) in pastoral areas with the aim of improving equitable access to preventive and selected curative health interventions through community based health programs.” He also added that “Efforts are underway to move services out from facilities to the villages and household levels.”