Ethiopia Launches Nat’l Health Extension Program Optimization Roadmap

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Addis Ababa March 3/2021 (ENA) Ethiopia launched today a national Health Extension Program (HEP) Optimization Roadmap with a view to accelerating the realization of Universal Health Coverage through access to needed health services, including prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

The 12.6 billion USD 15-year roadmap aspires to ensure equitable access to essential health services, improve the quality of health services and strengthen community engagement and empowerment.

Launching the roadmap, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen said the previous health extension program was improved even though it registered encouraging results over the past years.

The government has prioritized areas to be reformed at national level and the health sector, he added.

According to the deputy premier, the roadmap will play irreplaceable role in transforming the health sector in particular and ascertain the aspired inclusive nationwide social transformation and prosperity.

He pointed out that attention should be given to building the capacity of health officers, galvanizing the slowing down trend of the HEP performance, and meeting the growing public demand for improved health services.

Demeke urged stakeholders to work in collaboration with Ministry of Health towards the realization of the optimization roadmap.

Health Minister Dr. Lia Tadesse said HEP has proven to be effective intervention by serving as the largest component of Ethiopia’s health care delivery system over the last 15 years.  However, some challenges were also observed.

She added that changes in demography, epidemiology, socio-economic factors, community demand and global and national priorities necessitated transforming the HEP.

Data show that there are 17,550 health posts and 39,878 health extension workers across the country whereby 1 health extension worker is responsible for 500 households on average.

HEP has helped reduce maternal mortality from 673 in 2005 to 401 in 2019.  Likewise, under 5 mortality due to malaria and new HIV infections reduced by 73 and 90 percent, respectively.