As the 2019 Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC), one of the largest health convening in Africa, deliberated a myriad of health issues facing the continent for three days in Kigali, Ethiopia’s road towards achieving universal health coverage were shared in several platforms.
With 47 delegates from Ethiopia attending the conference; several research findings on differ- ent topics, best practices, success stories and lessons learnt highlighting home-grown solu- tions to health challenges were shared by the delegates in the fora.
The Ministry of Health representatives from Ethiopia shared the remarkable results the country has achieved meeting Millennium Development Goals in the various panel discus- sions, which drew much attention and generate inspiration. In a panel staged for the launch of the WHO guideline for community health workers, Temesgen Ayehu, Director of Health Extension Program and Primary Health care in Ethiopia, spoke about Ethiopia’s key govern- ment initiatives that help drive country’s progress towards delivering health for all.
Focusing mainly on the progress made in reducing the rates of maternal and child death through embedding the health extension program in the health system and deploying trained health extension workers across the country, Temesgen highlighted the drivers and pathways of the positive changes related to the Ethiopia primary health care delivery, along with its challenge.
At the inter-ministerial panel where high-level representatives from the Health Ministries of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda shared their countries’ progress on universal health coverage, Professor Mengesha Admassu from the Institute of Primary Health Care Ethiopia, articulated the Ethiopia government’s commitment to delivering primary health care for all, describing the progress achieved so far on improving maternal and child health and the on-going efforts put in place.
Delegates from Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia also presented research findings and various project experiences. Among the presentations in the oral panel was on the establishment of youth friendly services (YFS) to improve the quality health care for youth at public health facilities. The findings showed improvement of access and utilization of sexual reproductive health services by youth in intervention districts, with service utilization increased from 24% to 49% in three years. This demonstrated the positive health outcomes of setting up youth friendly environment at the health settings for young people to utilize the services at ease.
“Amref Health Africa’s Response to Health Equity’ and ‘Quality of Antenatal Care (ANC) through Improving Essential Laboratory Services in Developing Regions in Ethiopia’ were also among the engaging topics shared.
Alongside oral presentations, Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia presented more than ten posters on a variety of topics ranging from mobile health to solar powered water sources, from latrine access to health workers satisfac- tion and retention to reproductive health service utilization.
A poster presentation that highlighted impacts of mobile health intervention to address quali- ty, equity, and access among pregnant women and children who live in hard to reach areas was shared as one of the best experiences. Key findings from the study indicated there was significant improvement of maternal and child health service utilization, with provision of antennal and postnatal care increased from 60% to 91%, and 20% to 52% respectively. In addition, the number of mothers delivering at home declined from 47% to 21% in the imple- mentation districts.
The AHAIC 2019 also offered an opportunity for different organizations to showcase their
products and services. Ethiopia International Institute for Primary Health Care, one of the government-led initiatives that aspire to build a movement for primary health care in Africa to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, showcased its experiences and aspirations, raising the profile of Ethiopia’s representation at the AHAIC. The institution, which is established to share experiences of the innovative community based health program, provides national and international level trainings related to designing and strengthening primary health care and community based health programs.
The oral and poster platforms coupled with conversations in exchange events, field visits, and other gatherings offered great opportunities for the Ethiopian delegates to learn and take-home unique experiences. Besides the wealth of experience and knowledge shared, the conference was valued by many as an opportunity to network with both public and private partners in the health sector.