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Ethiopia, 13 September 2013: Ethiopia Reduces Mortality Among Children Under Five By Two-Thirds Since 1990

According to latest UN estimates, MDG4 Target Achieved 3 Years Ahead of Time

Addis Ababa, 13 September 2013 - The Ministry of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and UNICEF announced today that Ethiopia has reduced its under-five mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2012- the required reduction for meeting the target of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) on child survival. In 1990, the under 5 mortality rate was one of the highest in the world at 204/1,000 live births; by 2012, this rate had been slashed to 68/1,000 live births. 

The announcement follows the release of the latest global and country data from the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) and the annual report of the Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Initiative, co-chaired by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States. Globally, the annual number of deaths among children under 5 fell, from an estimated 12.6 million in 1990, to 6.6 million in 2012. Over the past 22 years, the world saved around ninety million children’s lives that may otherwise have been lost. Ethiopia has made a significant contribution to this success- each year around 235,000 more children survive to their fifth birthday than was the case 20 years ago in the country.

This achievement was driven by political commitment, advances in science and technology, and improvements in health, nutrition and family planning services, particularly in the rural areas. Indeed, Ethiopia has, in many ways, been at the forefront when it comes to ensuring basic services for women and children in the country.  In particular, by bringing basic health services to the doorstep of the rural population, the Health Extension Programme has made a significant contribution. Since 2003, more than 38,000 Government salaried Health Extension Workers, the majority of them young women, have been deployed to over 15,000 health posts right across the country.  “Achieving ambitious targets in the social sectors has been a central pillar of the Government’s Growth and Transformation Plan,” said Dr Kesetebirhan Admasu, the Federal Minister of Health. “It is now clear that the key policy choices that we made in the health sector were the right ones.”

The announcement also carries broader significance since Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa and plays a critical leadership role on the continent through its current chairmanship of the African Union and its role in many other regional political and development fora. It also comes at a time when UNICEF and other development partners around the world are focused on accelerating progress in the final 1000 days until the MDG deadline. “In many ways the progress made in the health sector in Ethiopia has become a  powerful global symbol of what can be achieved in resource-constrained environments, and has given many international partners renewed faith in the enterprise of development,” said Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia. “Ethiopia has become the child survival benchmark for other countries, implicitly challenging them to do more for their own children.”


Note to editors:
Global estimates of child mortality are challenging to produce because many countries lack complete systems to track vital records.  The estimates released today are based on statistical models and data from a variety of sources, including household surveys and censuses. 

All the numbers cited here fall within a statistical confidence range. For example, the estimated global number of 6.6 million deaths in 2012 falls within the statistical confidence range from 6.3 to 7.0.

About UN-IGME 
The Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation or IGME was formed in 2004 to share data on child mortality, harmonize estimates within the UN system, improve methods for child mortality estimation report on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and enhance country capacity to produce timely and properly assessed estimates of child mortality. The estimates, as well as the data used, are included in the Child Mortality Estimation Database (CME Info) and represent the IGME agreed estimates. The CME Info database is financially supported and maintained by UNICEF.

The IGME, is led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization and also includes the World Bank and the United Nations Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs as full members. For more information visit:

About Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed
A Promise Renewed is a global movement that seeks to advance Every Woman Every Child – a strategy launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around – through action and advocacy to accelerate reductions in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

The movement emerged from the Child Survival Call to Action, a high-level forum convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF, to examine ways to spur progress on child survival. Partners from government, civil society and the private sector emerged from the Call to Action forum with a revitalized commitment to child survival. An African Leadership for Child Survival high level meeting was convened by Ethiopia in January 2013.

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

UNICEF has been operating in Ethiopia since 1952 and is present in all regions of the country. The agency supports national efforts that seek to ensure the realisation of the rights of children and women, through improved child survival, development, protection and participation.

The Ministry of Health’s health extension programme, which has been supported by UNICEF since its inception; is one example of how critical community health workers are in providing quality care to children and mothers in remote areas. UNICEF supports the programme by providing supplies including vaccine storage equipment, delivery beds and medications, and supporting training for health workers. The programme also provides treatment of severe acute malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

Downloadable materials related to the UN IGME report and the Committing Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Progress Report 2013 can be found on: For more information about UNICEF Ethiopia on social media please visit: Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | LinkedIn | Delicious | Youtube |

For further information, please contact:
Ahmed Emano, Director, Public Relation and Communication Directorate, Federal Ministry of Health, Tel: +251 115 518031, Mobile: +251 911 388946, email:

Alexandra (Sacha) Westerbeek, Chief Media and External Relations, UNICEF Ethiopia 
Tel.: +251 11 518 4039, Mobile: + 251 911 255109,  email:



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