Debre Zeit, Ethiopia–Godino Health Center, serving the community of Debre Zeit 40 miles (70 kilometers) south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, is a modest health care facility by developed world standards.Yet it represents a big idea for Ethiopia’s system of health care, and President Clinton came here today on the first leg of his Africa trip to make it a powerful symbol.
“I am honored to visit the Godino Health Center to launch my Foundation’s Ethiopian Millennium Rural Initiative in partnership with the Government of Ethiopia,” Mr. Clinton told hundreds of people gathered on a dusty field to see him. “Working together, we can improve health care for millions of people who live in rural areas of Ethiopia, and also enable future generations to live free of HIV/AIDS.”
The Ethiopian Millennium Rural Heath Initiative will help develop and install systems that are needed to fit the many pieces of the health system together, Clinton said. “The success of any health care system requires many parts to work in coordination … We’ll need trained workers, experienced managers, medical equipment, financial resources, and a great many other pieces.”
A critical part of Ethiopia’s health care system is ithe country’s Health Extension Worker Program: young women from the community who help villagers lead healthier lives and get care when they need it. “I’d like to recognize these energetic and heroic women for being on the frontlines of the battle against illnesses in this region and across Ethiopia,” Clinton said after meeting several health extension workers at Godino.
The President said his foundation will provide universal access to HIV testing, so that everyone in the community could know their status and be able to get treatment if needed, or have the tools to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We will ensure that every pregnant woman receives the necessary testing, counseling, and treatment to ensure that her baby will not be born with HIV, and that should help to improve maternal and child health for the community.”
“We also are going make greater use of community health workers, alongside the health extension workers, to prevent, identify, and treat HIV, malaria, and other infectious and communicable diseases.”
The Clinton Foundation is focusing aggressively on prevention of the transmission of the HIV virus from mothers to their children.
“In the United States and Europe, the rate of transmission from mothers to children is less than 2 percent. In the developing world, the transmission rate is more than 30 percent,” the President said.
“We’re going to develop and test ways to improve prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs … Our approach for prevention is rooted in the importance of community health workers and other resources to find all pregnant women, counsel them, and test them.”