Survival and health

Expanding access and improving health care quality and standards in Ethiopia

UNICEF Ethiopia /2018/ Sewunet

For every child, health

While Ethiopia has made significant progress in reducing maternal and under-five mortality and combating HIV, malaria and other diseases, challenges remain: a sub-optimal health system including inadequate health care financing and quality of services; insufficient skilled and specialized health care providers in rural and remote areas; inadequate response to adolescent health needs; and limited links between health services and early stimulation and development for children below the age of 3 years, including birth registration. Much also remains to be done to build a resilient health system in a country prone to humanitarian and environmental crises in an unstable region.

Evidence shows that maternal and child deaths have been in decline since 2000. Yet, maternal and newborn mortality remain unacceptably high. Lack of access to quality antenatal, obstetric and postnatal health services, especially in rural areas, hampers further progress in reducing maternal deaths. Reducing newborn deaths within the first 28 days remains a challenge.

Every day, 480 children dying every day of easily preventable diseases.

Adolescent girls are highly affected by Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage. The country has the second highest number of girls and women in the world having undergone FGM/C, with the absolute number of girls and women (aged 15–49 years old) being 23.8 million.

Survival and health in numbers

  • Annual maternal deaths are 353 per 100,000 live births.
  • Annual under-five deaths are 67 per 1,000 live births.
  • 47 per cent of baby deaths happen within the first month of life.
  • 480 children die every day from easily preventable diseases.
  • 23.8 million girls and women (aged 15–49 years) have undergone FGM/C.
  • 17 per cent of girls aged 15–19 are married.
  • Total fertility rate for women aged 15–49 years is 4.6.
  • There are 63 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 years.


UNICEF supports the Government to develop evidence-based policies and strategies, leverage resources, and monitor and evaluate progress towards universal health care focusing on the most disadvantaged and underserved children and women. A key component is the Health Extension Programme which brings health care to rural and remote areas.

A priority for narrowing the gaps in access is providing quality and affordable services to indigents. UNICEF is linking participants in the Productive Safety Net Programme to the Community-Based Health Insurance scheme. UNICEF is helping to strengthen management of the supply chain system for essential commodities and the health information system, which includes community health. UNICEF will support data quality improvement and its use for decision-making at community level, including the use of community score cards.

Improving the coverage of health services to reach the most disadvantaged children and women continues to be a core priority. The package of services includes integrated maternal, newborn and child health, immunization, and nutrition delivered at the health post, health center, and primary hospitals.

Using community platforms in underserved populations, UNICEF helps to improve health-seeking behaviors by addressing harmful traditional beliefs and negative social norms and enhancing social accountability. 
UNICEF provides essential lifesaving services to the most vulnerable children during an emergency and is working to build the capacity of Government and partners, including community stakeholders, for identifying vulnerabilities and risks, emergency preparedness and response, early recovery, and resilience.