Eritrea has achieved impressive progress on health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), members of the United Nations and the Government observed here in an event organized during the UN General Assembly.
The discussion was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Eritrea to the United Nations, the UN Resident Coordinator in Asmara, Christine Umutoni, with the Foreign Minister of Eritrea, Osman Saleh and Yoka Brandt, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF as keynote speakers.
In more than twenty years since independence, the Eastern African country reduced child mortality by two thirds, decreased the maternal mortality ratio from 1,700 to 380 per 100,000 live births, and maintained exceptionally low HIV and tuberculosis prevalence rates.
Around 98 percent of all children are now immunized, as compared with 14 percent only at independence.
“Eritrea has emerged from 30 years of a devastating war, with non-existing infrastructural, institutional and human resources capacity,” said Osman Saleh. “It has been able to make real progress in all areas of social, economic and political development,” he added.
Eritrea’s concerted efforts, bold policies and considerable investments are considered responsible for the dramatic changes in the health sector.
“What we see as development partners, what is responsible for this success is community participation, the enabling environment, leadership, strong mechanisms for prevention, value for money and coordinated inter-sectoral approaches,” said Christine Umutoni.
She added that community and women’s involvement were key to tackling health challenges.
Ms. Umutoni also pointed out that the country has put into place a number of innovations to accelerate change. These include temporary maternal clinics, mobile medical units, as well as knowledge of migration patterns and remote areas.
Generating statistics, sustaining funding, partnerships with the private sector and human resource capacity were identified as priorities.
Participants agreed that success on MDGs 4, 5 and 6 should serve as lessons for all other goals and targets, and inform priorities for the post-2015 development agenda in Eritrea.
Keynote addresses were followed by technical presentations by Prof. Abraham Kidane, Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Development, and Dr. Usman Abdulmumini, WHO representative in Eritrea.