Nearly 50 million lives saved since 2000; millions more can be saved by 2030: UNICEF

New-born shows an improving health status after being treated at Yekatit 12 Hospital Medical College, in Neonatal intensive care unit.
Premature newborn health is improving after being treated at Yekatit 12 Hospital Medical College, in Neonatal intensive care unit. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Mersha

NEW YORK/Addis Ababa, 9 September 2015 – The rate of decline in mortality among the world’s youngest children has more than doubled over a generation, and an additional 38 million lives could be saved by 2030 if progress accelerates further, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) world leaders are set to approve later this month.

Since 2000, when governments committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the lives of 48 million children under the age of five have been saved. This remarkable progress is the result of sustained action by leaders – to make saving children’s lives a policy and a political priority, to improve and use data about child survival, and to scale up proven interventions.

The number of children who die from mostly preventable causes before they turn five now stands at 5.9 million a year – a 53 per cent drop since 1990. At 3.9 percent the global annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality between 2000 and 2015 was more than twice as high as what it was in the 1990s.

Some of the world’s poorest countries have demonstrated that substantial reductions in child mortality can be achieved despite formidable obstacles:

  • 24 out of 81 low- and lower-middle income countries, including Cambodia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Uganda, achieved the MDG of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds or more.[1]
  • Between 2000 and 2015, twenty-one sub-Saharan African countries reversed a rising mortality trend or at least tripled their pace of progress compared to the 1990s.

Low income countries are: Cambodia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Lower-middle income countries are: Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan; Nicaragua; Timor-Leste; Yemen.

To reiterate the agenda, A Call to Action Summit took place from 27-28 August 2015 in New Delhi, India with the aim of ending preventable deaths of children and mothers by 2035. This was a prelude to the United Nations Summit for the adoption of post-2015 development agenda that will be held as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in September 2015.The two-day Leadership Summit was a confluence of health ministers from over 10 priority countries that committed to the global Call to Action for Child Survival in June 2012 including Ethiopia.

At the Summit, Ethiopia was represented by His Excellency Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu accompanied by the technical team, including representatives from CSOs. In addition, Abelone Melese, UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia, deliberated a speech and recited two songs entitled, “Welaj Enat” and “Happy Birthdays” to the participants of the Summit.

Dr. Kesete presented the progress accomplished by the Government of Ethiopia during the last decade and the new priorities- Ensuring “Quality” & Equity” in health care. He said, “The Government of Ethiopia is committed to end preventable maternal and child deaths. This will be possible through unwavering political commitment, community ownership, and universal health

coverage of high impact interventions. To consolidate the gains that were made during the MDGs and accelerate the progress towards the noble cause of ending preventable maternal and child deaths, the Ministry of Health has developed a 5-year-Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP) 2015-2020. The plan has set out ambitious goals to be achieved in this period. I would like to state four of the transformational agendas that were set out in this plan. Ensuring “Quality” & Equity” in health care: Equity and quality are the core goals of the health sector transformation plan, which aspires to build a high performing health system”.

UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Ethiopia to sustain the gains made on Child Survival and ensure that the unfinished business of neonatal and maternal mortality are rapidly addressed.

“Saving the lives of millions of children in urban and rural settings, in wealthy and poor countries, is one of the first great achievements of the new millennium — and one of the biggest challenges of the next 15 years is to further accelerate this progress” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt. “The data tell us that millions of children do not have to die — if we focus greater effort on reaching every child.”

Simple, high-impact, cost effective solutions that contributed to this dramatic reduction of under-five deaths include skilled antenatal, delivery and postnatal care; breastfeeding; immunization; insecticide-treated mosquito nets; improved water and sanitation; oral rehydration therapy for diarrhoea; antibiotics for pneumonia; nutritional supplements and therapeutic foods.

Despite this impressive progress, the world has not met the MDG target of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds.

Between 1990 and the end of 2015, an estimated 236 million children will have died from mostly preventable causes before turning five. Today, leading causes of under-five deaths include prematurity; pneumonia; complications during labour and delivery; diarrhoea; and malaria. Under-nutrition contributes to nearly half of all under-five deaths.

The SDGs challenge countries to significantly increase their efforts to bring rates of under-five mortality down to 25 deaths (or fewer) per 1,000 live births by 2030. By picking up the pace, especially in countries that are lagging, the world stands to save the lives of 38 million more children under the age of five.

About A Promise Renewed

Since its initiation in 2012, A Promise Renewed has focused on promoting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, and continuing the effort until no child or mother dies from preventable causes. Partners that support A Promise Renewed have committed to five priority actions:

  1. Increasing efforts in the countries facing the greatest challenges on under-five mortality;
  2. Scaling up access to underserved populations everywhere;
  3. Addressing the causes that account for the majority of under-five deaths;
  4. Increasing emphasis on the underlying drivers of child mortality, such as women’s education and empowerment;
  5. Rallying around a shared goal and using common metrics to track progress.

Download the report

Media Get-Together with UNICEF National Ambassadors -Abelone Melesse and Hannah Godefa

By Wossen Mulatu

Hannah Godefa and Abelone Melesse
Media meets UNICEF Ethiopia National Ambassadors-Hannah Godefa and Abelone Melesse on Friday, 24 July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

ADDIS ABABA, 24 July 2015 Today, UNICEF’s Media and External Relations Section has organised the third media get-together with UNICEF National Ambassadors to Ethiopia – Hannah Godefa and Abelone Melesse. Also present on the occasion as guests of honour were the fathers of Abelone and Hannah- Ato Solomon Melesse and Ato Godefa Assegahen respectively.

Since their appointment as UNICEF National Ambassadors, Hannah and Abelone have shown a true commitment to the issues of women and children by involving in different advocacy activities both in Ethiopia and abroad. At the media get- together, both Hannah and Abelone shared their current activities in relation to the rights of women and children including their recent field visit to Amhara region to see UNICEF- supported child protection and health activities.

At the occasion, the media had the opportunity to ask questions to Abelone and Hannah on their role as ambassadors, their inspiration and their future plan. The media also forwarded their questions to their fathers on how they have raised their daughters and how they support them.

Speaking of her visit to Amhara region, Hannah said the most fulfilling part of her visit was the interaction she had with the women and children in the community. “I have talked to women who were faced with child marriage instead of going to school- it’s really heartbreaking.”

Seventeen year old Hannah became a UNICEF National Ambassador in 2013. This year, Hannah has participated at the World Education Forum 2015 (WEF) from 19 to 22 May in the city of Incheon, Republic of Korea. Hannah joined the “Leaving no one behind – how education can drive inclusive development?” panel co-hosted by the UNICEF Executive Director and David McKenzie of CNN. On 16 June, Hannah became a panelist or the 29th session of the Human Rights Council’s panel discussion on girls’ education held in Geneva.

Abelone on her part said, “My visit to Dera woreda in Amhara region has been an eye opener to see the progress made in the health sector in Ethiopia. I have witnessed how the health extension workers reach the most vulnerable population through promotive, preventive and basic curative health and nutrition services. My goal is to advocate especially for maternal health though my songs as a rap singer.”

Nineteen year old young rap star Abelone Melesse became a UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia in 2014. This year, Abelone has attended a number of meetings and conferences in her new capacity as an Ambassador. On International Women’s Day, Abelone was invited by Ethiopian Women’s Association in Norway joined by high level Norwegian politicians where she had the opportunity to deliberate a speech and perform her songs on behalf of the women in Norway and in Ethiopia. Abelone also officially released her new single entitled “Jewels of the world” – a song which she has dedicated to UNICEF at the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The song written by Abelone herself has received more than 10,000 views on Youtube 7,150 views on Facebook  and 70,106 views on DireTube.

Note to the media

How can UNICEF support the media? Our UNICEF Ethiopia website has many different resources, including: publications, photos, press releases, speeches, contact information, guidelines and other information useful for the media. In addition, we are present in many socialmedia platforms such as FacebookTwitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Delicious and Youtube 

In addition, the Media and External Relations Section facilitates individual interviews with specialists and experts on different programmes in different languages including: English, French, Arabic, German, Swahili, Dutch, Italian and many Ethiopian local languages. We also organise media round tables with senior staff and programme specialists, respective government officials and partners on different topics affecting women and children.

Regular media field visits will continue to be organised to visit UNICEF-supported project sites in Addis Ababa as well as in the regions.

We wish to thank those who were able to join us and look forward to our continuous collaboration in 2015 and beyond.

Ethiopia boosts its efforts to end child marriage and FGM/C by 2025 at the National Girl Summit 

By Wossen Mulatu

National girl summit 2015
Participants of national girl summit 2015 at Sheraton Addis on 25 June 2015. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

25 June 2015, Addis Ababa: Today, the Government of Ethiopia reiterated its commitment to put an end to child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) at the National Girl Summit held for the first time in its capital. The Summit was held as a follow up to the Girl Summit in London held in July 2014 where the Government of Ethiopia took a heroic step by making a ground breaking commitment to end child, early and forced marriage and FGM/C in the country by 2025.

The historic National Summit in Ethiopia was officially opened by H.E. Ato Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister in the presence of H.E W/ro Zenebu Tadesse, Minister of Women Children and Youth Affairs with over two hundred partners drawn from Sector Ministries of Justice, Health, Education and Finance and Economic Development, UN representatives, representatives of religious council, development partners, civil societies, the private sector, members of the media and nine adolescent girls as guests of honour.

National girl summit 2015
H.E. Demeke Mekonnen Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia gives opening speech and officially launches National Girl Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

“We all have an obligation to fight and eliminate harmful traditional practices that are violating the rights of girls who will take over as the future leaders,” said H.E Ato Demeke Mekonnen. “If we are expecting good results and a lasting change to tackle these issues ones and for all, we need to work in a coordinated manner and there has to be accountability. I would like to reaffirm that the Government is on top of the agenda to eliminate early marriage and FGM/C and to build a harmful traditional practice (HTP) free country by working together with all partners.”

The Government of Ethiopia has formulated policies and legal and strategic frameworks to establish an environment whereby all citizens, regardless of gender, should have the right to determine his or her own future. However, harmful traditional practices (HTPs) such as child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) are still commonly practiced in the country, due to deeply entrenched traditional norms and values that degrades the lives of girls and women.

According to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS), the national prevalence of child marriage declined from 33.1 per cent in 1997 to 21.4 per cent in 2009/10 and among children aged 0-15 declined to 8 percent in 2011.As to FGM/C, the national prevalence rate was 74 per cent in 2005, 56 per cent in 2008 and 46 per cent in 2010. Among children aged 0-14 years, 52 per cent in 2000, 37.7 per cent in 2010 and 23 per cent in 2011 which shows a consistent decline.

H.E. Minister Zenebu on her part said that the Ministry of Women Children and Youth Affairs will continue to work closely and jointly with its sector Ministries and partners to support all the efforts on the ground including community conversations and also reinforcing the laws associated with harmful traditional practices.

On her keynote address, Gillian Mellshop, Acting UN Resident Coordinator and Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia said that Ethiopia has made significant progress in developing polices and strategies as well as in building the capacity of individuals and institutions to tackle those two harmful practices. She stated, “Now it is our turn as the UN in Ethiopia to maintain the momentum and pledge our support to translate the commitment into concrete action for girls. Let us use this occasion to recommit ourselves to empowering adolescent girls through strategies, interventions and partnerships that deliver results so we can jointly end child marriage and FGM/C by 2025 or sooner.”

Let Girls Be Girls“Female circumcision is neither in the Bible nor in the Koran and it should not be associated with any religion. How could one try to cut and harm a human body that has been created as complete?” exclaimed Dr. Aba Hailegabriel Meleku, Representative of the Inter Religious Council. “Our council condemns both child marriage and FGM and we hope there will be a platform to have one voice at the federal level to eliminate both evil acts.”

At the Summit, adolescent girls’ messages were geared towards the need for more support from religious leaders and law enforcement bodies; more schools for more girls to be educated; education on reproductive health; and above all the support from boys and young men to change their attitude towards harmful traditional practices.

Dr. Kestebirhan Admassu, Minister of Health said, “We should empower, educate and protect girls. Ethiopia’s Health Extension Workers are a great example to the rural girls and women to inspire them pursue their education and give back to their communities. ”

The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs establishes a national HTP Platform in order to realise the multi-sectoral mechanisms and to ensure effective coordination and collaboration between and among different development partners involved in the fight against HTPs. This National Implementation and Monitoring Platform is established from representatives drawn from relevant stakeholders (Government line ministries, multilateral and bilateral donors, CSOs, women and youth associations and national federations, faith based organisations, and national associations) working towards the prevention and elimination of HTPs.

Finally, the event was made colourful through the viewing of a rap song entitled, “Yalemachin Get” by young rap star- Abelone Melesse, UNICEF Ethiopia National Ambassador. The song sends a powerful message on children’s rights and making the world a better place for girls by educating, protecting and not turning our back on them as they need all our support.

Moreover, an exhibition was part of the summit where local and international NGOs, CSOs and the UN working on the themes of child marriage and FGM/C showcased their work through print and electronic media.

Photos, videos and other resources can be found here

State of the World’s Children report launched in Ethiopia

SOWC 2014 IN NUMBERS coverAs we mark 25 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 2015 edition of The State of the World’s Children calls for brave and fresh thinking to address age-old problems that still affect the world’s most disadvantaged children. In particular, the report calls for innovation – and for the best and brightest solutions coming from communities to be taken to scale to benefit every child.

The report highlights the work of creative problem solvers around the world, allowing them to talk about the future in their own voice. Much of the content in the report was curated from UNICEF’s series of ‘Activate Talks,’ which have brought together innovators from around the world to highlight specific challenges and concrete actions to realize children’s rights.

The report launched today in Ethiopia by Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia and the new UNICEF Ethiopia National Ambassador, young rap star Abelone Melese, a citizen of Norway with Ethiopian origin.

Abelone Melese and Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Ethiopia Representative launched the State of the World's Children Report at the Ambassadorship signing ceremony.
Abelone Melese and Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Ethiopia Representative launched the State of the World’s Children Report ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

We are requesting your support, as a key influencer on social media to help promote the report and generate greater awareness around the power of innovation to drive change for children.

We encourage you to read and share the report and videos, through this link and share your ideas through social media using the report’s main hashtag: #EVERYchild, as well as #innovation, when relevant. Also, make sure you are following @UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with our #EVERYchild messages to help spread the word!

By helping to create a global conversation around innovation as a means of reaching the most disadvantaged children, you are helping to put innovation for equity at the centre of the global agenda.

UNICEF Ethiopia Appoints young rap star Abelone Melese as its New National Ambassador

Abelone Melese and Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting Representative for UNICEF Ethiopia hold a UNICEF T-shirt to officiate Abelone's new title.
Abelone Melese and Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting Representative for UNICEF Ethiopia hold a UNICEF T-shirt to officiate Abelone’s new title. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

20 November 2014, Addis Ababa: Today, UNICEF Ethiopia appointed young rap star Abelone Melese, a citizen of Norway with Ethiopian origin, as its new National Ambassador at a signing ceremony held in its premises. The event was attended by Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Mrs. Tove Stub, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy, members of the media and UNICEF staff.

Abelone, after visiting Ethiopia several times, was driven by compassion and the zest to help mothers and children by using her music to convey positive messages. She participated in a project called 10,000 happy birthdays which was a fundraising activity to help mothers in Malawi and Ethiopia. At a fundraising concert organized for this project, Abelone performed a rap song in Amharic and English on the situation of African mothers-a song she composed especially for this concert and which has left a big impression and fans.

Abelone Melese interviewed by the media on her new role as the newest UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia.
Abelone Melese interviewed by the media on her new role as the newest UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia.

Speaking of her new title as a UNICEF National Ambassador Abelone said, “I have always wanted to help children and young people who do not have the opportunities to reach their highest potential. Since I couldn’t do it financially, I am happy that I can use my talent to convey those messages”. She further said, “Working with UNICEF as a National Ambassador will allow me to help defend the rights of children, including the right to education, health, nutrition, water, and sanitation, protection and participation and ensure compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, because that’s what UNICEF is about.”

Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Representative underlined, “Abelone is a role model for her peers and especially girls. Her candid personality coupled with her strong presence in the public domain sends powerful messages that reach the hearts and minds of children and youth all over the world. We are confident that she will make a positive contribution especially in the area of child rights, maternal health and girl’s empowerment during her ambassadorship.”

Abelone is following in the footsteps of Aster Awoke and Hannah Godefa as UNICEF National Ambassador by demonstrating an outstanding commitment and dedication by promoting the rights of children’s issues over time.

Abelone, as the new National Ambassador to Ethiopia, will sign a two year agreement with UNICEF starting 20 November which is Universal Children’s Day and the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of a Children. (CRC)

In addition, she will perform on 21 November at the Music Concert organized jointly by UNICEF and Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MoWCYA) to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child (IDG) at Alliance Ethio-Francaise in the evening at 20:00.

Here is Abelone’s reflection after the ceremony

See the pictures from the ceremony here 

And her PSA with Hannah Godefa here