Photograph — blog.cimmyt.org

On Thursday, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, announced the launch of a new USAID Digital Health Activity, by investing $63 million in Ethiopia’s health sector.

The inauguration ceremony was held in Addis Ababa, by the USAID Mission Director Sean Jones and Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr. Amir Aman. It focused on the efforts made by the U.S. and Ethiopia in building a modernized health information system that ensures the entire sector has the data, analytics, and skills necessary to improve the health and well-being of all Ethiopians.

USAID Digital Health Activity will train end-users including doctors, nurses, health extension workers, and policy-makers at all levels of the health system to utilize technology more effectively and enable them to better serve patients and families across the country.

Also, USAID will partner with local universities to introduce courses in developing health innovations and electronic solutions. It will also create opportunities for entrepreneurs and youth-led tech organizations to utilize their expertise in providing support to health centres and also establish career paths that empower young Ethiopians to drive digital solutions across the sector.

USAID Mission Director Sean Jones said, “in addition to simply expanding digital health systems and strengthening the skills of today’s medical professionals, we are also increasing our focus on developing the leaders of tomorrow to drive health innovations far into the future.”

Ethiopia health sector has evolved over the years, with the government making significant investments that have brought about positive outcomes. Under the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) and Health System Transformation Plan, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is implementing changes to various aspects of the healthcare system.

More so, the government has increasingly decentralized management of its public health system to the Regional Health Bureau levels. The MOH is also committed to reforming agencies such as Ethiopian Food and Drug Administration (EFDA) and the Pharmaceutical Supply Agency (PSA).

Nevertheless, Ethiopia still fights the high rate of non- communicable and communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory infection, and diarrhoea. With high fertility rates and low contraceptive prevalence, the country’s population is increasing rapidly.

There’s also an increasing demand for the government to address the issue of equity in access to health care, quality in health services provision and in strengthening community engagement and ownership in health decision-making and management.

The US is the largest bilateral provider of support to Ethiopia’s health sector, with approximately $150 million per year in funding for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS; malaria; maternal, neonatal and child health; nutrition; and water, sanitation and hygiene. Overall, the US has provided approximately $4 billion in development and humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia over the past five years.

 By Faith Ikade.

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