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WHO partners with EIB to revamp Primary Healthcare in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, June 22, 2023 (FBC) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is partnering with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support the Government of Ethiopia in the development of a Primary Healthcare (PHC) Investment plan and Primary Healthcare infrastructure roadmap, WHO said today.

A team from the three tiers of the World Health Organization (WHO Headquarters, WHO Africa Regional Office, and WHO-Ethiopia Country Office) deliberated with Dr. Lia Tadesse, Ethiopian Minister of Health, on ways of fast-tracking the development of the Investment Plan and Healthcare Infrastructure Roadmap.

The need to support the PHC investment plan was driven by the partnership Director General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, and the President of EIB, Dr. Werner Hoyer, announced to mobilize “one billion euro of investment to support countries in closing the health funding gap, building resilient health systems based on a solid foundation of Primary Health Care (PHC), to help them reach the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

“Through strengthening PHC in Ethiopia, the partnership envisages advancing towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). It also aims at boosting priority investments in education and employment of health personnel (human capital), infrastructure, water, hygiene, and sanitation and thus effectively leverage WHO’s presence in the country, its technical capabilities, and its advisory role in guiding investments of the EIB in the health sector” Dr. Faraz Khalid, Research Officer, Strengthening of Primary Health Care with WHO Headquarters and the leader of the mission said.

Anchored on the Health Extension Program (HEP) – a flagship community-based PHC delivery platform introduced in 2003, Ethiopia’s Primary Healthcare Units (PHCUs) comprise 17,550 health posts and 3,735 health centers nationwide. By efficiently using the HEP and the PHC, the second Health Sector Transformation Plan of Ethiopia 2020/2021-2024/25 (HSTP II) aims to advance towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The PHC is the first level of contact between individuals, families, and communities within the health system. It provides essential healthcare services, including preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services. “By serving as the cornerstone of PHC, the HEP has helped millions of people in Ethiopia, especially those in rural communities, achieve equitable access to healthcare.” Dr. Lia Tadesse said.

Speaking at the debriefing sessions, the Acting Representative of WHO Ethiopia Country Office, Dr. Nonhlanhla Dlamini, emphasized the urgent need to strengthen the PHCUs as first responders for emergency and critical care services and establish referral linkages with other parts of the tiered health system.

Dr. Nonhlanhla Dlamini also emphasized the need to develop a costed roadmap on the physical health infrastructure to deliver on the strategic objectives of HSTP II and leverage the potential of digital health interventions.

“WHO is proud to partner with EIB on this important initiative which will help ensure that all Ethiopians have access to quality health care, regardless of their location or income.” Dr. Dlamini Added.

During its four-day mission in Ethiopia, the team ensured a shared understanding among all stakeholders about the planned deliverables of the partnership. It also took stock of the progress and created a consensus on the next steps to be implemented in the coming year, with clear milestones and delineation of roles and responsibilities.

The team also discussed the finalization of the draft national PHC strategic framework as well as drafting the PHC Infrastructure roadmap.

It also reviewed the updates required for the comprehensive mapping of PHC facilities and drawing up the forecast graphic interface of PHC infrastructure refurbishment priorities.

“This partnership is a major milestone in our efforts to strengthen our health system and achieve UHC,” Dr. Lia Tadesse said while appreciating the support of the EIB and WHO.

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