Polio transmission deemed interrupted in Ethiopia

Polio transmission deemed interrupted in Ethiopia by 4th polio external assessment; final decision awaited by Horn of Africa Final Assessment on 17 June.

Assessment recommendations include sustaining polio achievements for “polio legacy” in Ethiopia.

By Shalini Rozario 

12 June 2015

Health Extension Worker administers Polio Vaccination
National Polio Vaccination Campaign. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2005/Heger

Addis Ababa. From 8-12 June 2015, the 4th Polio External Assessment took place in Addis Ababa, to review the progress to date of the polio outbreak response, and determine the quality and status of the outbreak in the country. The assessment team was led by WHO and included members from CDC, Core Group, the Gates Foundation, UNICEF and others. The assessment team looked in detail at key elements of the polio programme including surveillance, campaign quality, communication, vaccine supply and logistics and other factors contributing to the interruption of the polio virus transmission.

4th external polio assessment debriefing
His Excellency Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister to the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia along with Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia; and Gillian Mellsop, Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia during the 4th external polio assessment debriefing on 12 June 2015. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Rozario

On Friday afternoon, 12 June, the external assessment team debriefed His Excellency Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister to the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia along with Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia; Gillian Mellsop, Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia along with key polio partners, and reviewed findings of the week-long assessment.

The overall conclusion was that the assessment believes that transmission in Ethiopia has been interrupted and called for sustained government support to ensure sustained gains.

Since the onset of the Horn of Africa (HOA) polio outbreak in May 2013, Ethiopia responded intensively. Following confirmation of cases in Somalia and Kenya, the first confirmed WPV case in Ethiopia was in August 2013 in the Somali Region resulting in a total of 10 WPV type-1 (wild poliovirus type 1) cases in the Doolo Zone of Somali Region. The last WPV case was confirmed in January 2014 — nearly 17 months ago – an indicator of interruption of transmission due to the intensive vaccination response, which includes 14 vaccination campaigns reaching children in all corners of the country with OPV (oral polio vaccine), including 4 rounds of National Immunization Days (NIDs), targeting between 12 to over 14 million children. All campaigns were supported with intensified communication and social mobilization activities, and engaged partnerships for solid community awareness, knowledge and acceptance of OPV.

H.E. Dr. Kebede responded enthusiastically to the assessment outcome, and stated, “The outbreak was closed due to the frontline teams and practioners on the ground.” He expressed support and said to value the recommendations to strengthen routine immunization, surveillance and quality SIAs (campaigns), which will benefit children and the health system in general. H.E. Dr. Kebede expressed gratitude to the leadership of the regional governments, particularly in the Somali Region. He appreciated efforts of community leaders, including religious leaders of the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, who played a key role in the outbreak response. Dr. Kebede thanked Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, for his commitment, and for his frequent visits to the outbreak epicenter, Doolo Zone of the Somali Region. He also welcomed Gillian Mellsop, as the new Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia and appreciated both partners for their contributions along with the other Polio Eradication Initiative partners such as CDC, Core Group, the Gates Foundation and Rotary International.

4th external polio assessment debriefing
Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia; Gillian Mellsop, Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia and Macoura Oulare, Chief of Health, UNICEF Ethiopia catch up during the 4th external polio assessment debriefing on 12 June 2015. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Rozario

Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou and Gillian Mellsop, congratulated the Ministry of Health on their achievements, expressed their support for the polio programme, and acknowledged the importance of drawing on the successes and lessons learned for the “polio legacy” in Ethiopia.

Final recommendations will be delivered to the Horn of Africa countries, government representatives and partners on 17 June 2015 in Nairobi at the Horn of Africa Outbreak Final Assessment Debriefing.

UNICEF Advocates in Ethiopia and Chad joins hands to support HIV/AIDS prevention interventions

By Wossen Mulatu

Group photo at Addis Ketema Youth Centre with visitors from UNICEF Chad.
Group photo at Addis Ketema Youth Centre with visitors from UNICEF Chad: Mani Virgille Djelassem, 16 years old and UNICEF Chad’s Youth Advocate, Far left and Tommy T. Gobena, UNICEF Ethiopia supporter, centre red shirt. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Baiguatova

27 January 2015: UNICEF Chad’s Youth Advocate, 16 year old Mani Virgille Djelassem, and UNICEF Ethiopia Supporter- Tommy T. Gobena visited the Addis Ketema Youth Centre and its HIV prevention activities today.

The Chadian National Council for the fight against AIDS, in collaboration with UNICEF Chad, nominated the 16-year-old Mani as a National Youth Advocate to intensify the communications activities around the issue of HIV/ AIDS among youth and adolescents. Her appointment was officially presented by the First Lady of Chad, Mrs Hinda Deby, during the celebration of World AIDS Day on 1st December last year.

Tommy T. Gobena, a bass player in ‘Gogol Bordello’- a renowned international rock band- has been closely working with UNICEF in conveying messages on HIV/AIDS prevention. Tommy’s public service announcement (PSA) entitled “Your life; Your decision” produced by UNICEF in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and UNAIDS has received extensive public viewers and positive feedback on social media after its release on World AIDS Day last year.

Tommy believes that ignorance about the disease is a great enemy. “Education and knowledge should be a big part of the fight against HIV/AIDS. HIV is now a treatable medical condition. Through providing the necessary information, we can reduce HIV prevention as well as the stigma attached to it.”

The duo observed the Addis Ketema Youth Centre’s youth activities, including the library, cafeteria, Voluntary Counseling and Testing and game centres, and met with young beneficiaries. While discussing the issue of HIV/AIDS, Tommy and Mani highly encouraged them to get tested and know their HIV status as early as possible.

”The sooner you know your HIV status, the more options there are available to you.” said Mani.

“You can prevent infection to others if you find out you are HIV positive and you can seek medical care early and live a healthy life. If you test negative, you can continue to protect yourself from the virus by avoiding risky sexual behaviour,” reiterated Tommy.

Tommy and Mani also had the opportunity to meet with the Director of the Disease Prevention and Control Directorate at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Mahlet Kifle, and the HIV Team Coordinator, Dr Frehiwot Nigatu.

“I highly encourage adolescents in Ethiopia to be a champion for change and share their knowledge about HIV with each other.” said Mani.

Dr. Mahlet Kifle on her part said, “In order to prevent the prevalence of the HIV virus among adolescents and young people, the appointment of such committed advocates is key. Likewise, we will do all the needful to support and work together with such champions for HIV prevention in Ethiopia by also taking the example of Chad.”

In Ethiopia, the prevalence of HIV in terms of percentage of the population is low compared to other African countries. In 2011, 1.5 per cent of the population between the age 15 and 49 was HIV positive. In 2005, this rate was 1.4 per cent. However, taking into account the large population, the absolute numbers of people infected with HIV is high. Young people are often at a greater risk to become infected with HIV. They may have shorter relationship spans and therefore more sexual partners, or they may engage in risky sexual practices. Girls face a higher risk of HIV infection than boys.

In 2011 DHS report, 0.2 per cent of adolescent girls (aged 15-19) were HIV positive compared to 0 per cent of boys. This rate has declined since 2005, when this rate was 0.7 per cent of girls and 0.1 per cent of boys.[1]

MEDIA ADVISORY: High Level Launch of the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project

High Level Launch of the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project

WHAT: High Level Launch of the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project with a €40.2 million grant by the European Union (EU) to Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF to improve maternal and new-born health.

WHO: Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister, Federal Minister of Health

Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, Head of European Union Delegation,

Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia

WHEN: WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL, from 09:00am- 1:00pm

 WHERE: Radisson Blu Hotel, Addis Ababa

WHY: Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in promoting primary health care service facilities through the Health Extension Programme which led to the reduction of major public health challenges including tuberculosis, malaria and child mortality.  This in turn has contributed greatly to the achievement of MDG 4 of reducing child mortality three years ahead of the 2015 deadline. MDG 6 of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB are also well on track.

Despite this improved trends, MDG 5 – Improvement of maternal health – remains the only MDG goal that is not on track as we approach 2015 and now it the time to put it on the spotlight.

For interviews or additional information, please contact:

Ahmed Emano, Director, Public Relation and Communication Directorate, Federal Ministry of Health, Tel: +251 115 518031, Mobile: +251 911 388946, email:ahmed_emano[@]yahoo.com

Solomon Kebede, Press and Information Officer, European Union,

Tel.: +251 11 66 12 511, Mobile: +251 911 68 41 01, email: solomon.kebede[@]eeas.europa.eu

Wossen Mulatu, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ethiopia,

Tel.: +251 115 184028, Mobile: +251 911 308483, email: wmulatu[@]unicef.org

Media visit to Butajira to demonstrate partnerships

WHAT: Media visit to health facilities to demonstrate the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF in maternal and new born health- ahead of the high level launch of European Union’s donation of €40 million for Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE) Project.

WHO: Federal Ministry of Health, European Union, UNICEF

WHEN: WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL, from 7:30am- 4:30pm (Day Trip)

WHERE: Butajira Hospital and Butajira Health Center, SNNPR

WHY: According to EDHS 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.

The most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction is skilled birth attendance. However, availability and uptake of this service had remained stagnant until recently.

In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011. Therefore, maternal and neonate health are now the top priorities in everyone’s agenda.

Accordingly, Butajira Hospital and Health Center have been selected as model facilities that give full maternity service and continuum of care including neonatal care and a coordinated referral system for this visit.

This media visit is organized by Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF.

A media pack regarding the sites will be prepared and shared with you . A resource persons will be on board to respond to your queries.

Please confirm your attendance starting from today up to Monday for logistics purpose.

For interviews or additional information, please contact:

Wossen Mulatu, Communication Officer, Media and External Relation Section, UNICEF Ethiopia, Tel: +251 115 184028, Mobile: +251 911 308483, email: wmulatu[at]unicef.org