I travelled to one of the most beautiful cities in Ethiopia, Hawassa, on 30 April, with a former colleague, Ayele, and other Save the Children staff. Our purpose here: to participate in EVERY ONE campaign activities that Save the Children and partners have organised in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.
The day after our arrival there was a very colourful race where every participant running seemed cheerful and joyous. Health messages rang out over microphones fixed on vehicles, and as runners passed lake Hawssa, the cold air from the lake helped refresh them.
In the middle of the 7k race, I saw one girl of about 11. She looked very tired, and had slowed down to a walk. Someone threw her some words of encouragement and she said “yes, I’ll keep running and finish the whole race”. What motivation! I was really inspired by her enthusiasm.
Renewing our our motivation and commitment
I strongly believe this campaign has great importance for countries like Ethiopia, in raising the awareness of the general public that they have the right to use health services. This simple message has the power to save the lives of mothers and children.
Ethiopia’s maternal mortality is showing significant reduction over the last five years; from 673 down to 590 deaths per 100,000 births between 2005 and 2010. This indicates that there’s better use of health services now than in the past.
Child mortality is also declining. But the figures are still too high and totally unacceptable, and there needs to be much more consolidated and strengthened effort to tackle them.
Keep running to the finish line
That little girl decided: “no matter how long it takes, I will finish the race”. I think we have to say too, that whatever time and resources it takes, we have to reduce these figures, and it really is possible with the continued political support, with the generous help of supporters, and of course with the efforts of motivated and dedicated health workers.