UNICEF commends China for its support to maternal, neonatal health services in Africa
ADDIS ABABA, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The UN Child Fund (UNICEF) has hailed China's support to the endeavors being made in improving the quality of maternal and neonatal health services in Africa in general, and Ethiopia in particular.
In a statement on Thursday, UNICEF said China, through its international aid agency the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), has contributed one million U.S. dollars to improve the quality of health care provided to newborn babies in Ethiopia.
Stating that the contribution to Ethiopia is part of the eight million dollars grant that CIDCA has made to eight African countries to improve their maternal and neonatal health services, UNICEF said the grant will help improve the quality of health care for newborn babies through competency-based training and mentorship of health practitioners and tailored provision of equipment.
UNICEF, which helped to negotiate the grant, will work with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and its bureaus at the regional, district, and primary health care level to increase the availability of basic emergency obstetric and newborn care and newborn corners, according to the statement.
The grant will also help improve quality of services provided through newborn intensive care units (ICU), integrated management of newborn and childhood illnesses, community-based newborn care, and clinical mentorship.
The project will be implemented to cover 49 health centers, 219 health posts, and six primary hospitals in selected areas in the country, and an estimated 94,000 pregnant women and newborn babies will benefit from the project, according to UNICEF.
"Improving quality health care around the time of birth and providing special care for sick and small newborn babies is absolutely essential to saving babies," said Ethiopia's Minister of Health Lia Tadesse.
"We are delighted with this grant as it will go a long way towards improving the quality of health care provided to some of the most remote and disadvantaged communities in Ethiopia," said UNICEF Representative Adele Khodr. "For this, we express our heartfelt gratitude to the People's Republic of China."
The UNICEF statement said that the grant comes against a backdrop of progress in reducing child deaths in Ethiopia.
In 1990, about 222 children out of a thousand were dying before their fifth birthday. By 2019, the number had declined to 55 deaths. Despite this reduction, deaths of newborn babies have remained stubbornly high, with 100,000 dying every year and accounting for 55 percent of all under-5 child deaths.