Secretary-General's remarks to the press at the Ambo Mesk Health Post
Bahir dar, Ethiopia, 25 May 2011Q: [question on health extension programme in Ethiopia]
This is going to quadruple the number of midwives, they have now, I understand, 34, 000 crisscrossing all throughout the country. This is very important considering the long distances villagers have to travel, lack of transportation. How [we] provide immediate emergency sanitation help [?] can save lives. This is very important and I hope that the Government will try to expend these posts, clinics and centers and also hospitals. But when it comes to hospitals you have to have a lot of investments. You cannot build so many hospitals in a short period of time.
We can save a lot of needless deaths. I understand that every 25 minutes, a woman dies in Ethiopia. We have to stop these needless deaths. I am very much encouraged by what the Ethiopian Government is doing under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles and Health Minister Tewodros. I would like to discuss this matter with world leaders, traditional donors, so that they can encourage this sanitation and health service. The UN has [launched] the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. We can save 16 million lives by the end of 2015. That is our target and [it is] doable.
Q: For a health post like this to thrive, especially in developing countries, there has to be rural infrastructures in place to attract health professional. What are you yourself recommending to other countries from this experience?
SG: I have visited Nigeria. The Nigeria Government also made a great investment by adopting the National Health Care Bill which is very ambitious, impressive. In Ethiopia, this is another good example of how with a little investment they can save a lot of human lives. We have seen so many women and children dying needlessly from preventable diseases. The first life-savers, they are health workers. We are very much grateful to [them]. Training good health workers, training good midwives can save a lot of women's and also children's lives.