Bill Gates, Founder and Manager of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who is here on a two-day visit, said Ethiopia has registered a marked improvement in many areas particularly in the health sector.
Gates, who is here in Ethiopia for the first time to discuss with government officials and stakeholders on the foundation’ s activities on the health and agriculture sectors in the country, said in a news conference he gave here on Wednesday at Sheraton Addis that the health extension program is an exciting program in which the country has embarked up on.
He further said the health extension program has created a lot of access to health services to the public.
A lot of positive things are happening in Ethiopia, Gates said, adding that the decrease in the child mortality rate, the increase in the vaccination coverage and the case of malaria displayed this fact.
There are a number of successes in Ethiopia, he said, and adding, the success has to be measured in terms of health, nutrition and income benefits.
He said the health centers and posts he visited made him quite enthused about the general direction going in there.
He said the things he has seen during his visit and the discussions with various officials revealed the fact that there is an opportunity to do even better.
He said his Foundation is involved in helping Ethiopia in evaluating and monitoring performance in this regard and make sure the training to the extension workers provided in a rigorous way.
Gates said I am optimistic that Ethiopia will continue to make progress.
He said Ethiopia’ s plan to achieve food security by 2015 is a very important goal and can be achieved.
We (the Foundation) are participating to help them achieve these goals. I do think that they will make a progress. Gates said.
As this is not a wealthy country, Gates said making improvement in this regard requires donors and the government to work together.
He is pleased to see that both government and donors are making agriculture and health their priorities.
The Ethiopian government has priority to help its people in health and food security, he said, that is the goal “we have in common.”
Gates said that the focus of the Foundation is helping those most in need in the health system and food security.
The Foundation has started doing significant grant in Ethiopia about 5 and 3 years ago to the health and agriculture sectors respectively.
The Foundation currently provides over 400 million US dollars funding for partner organizations that are operating in health and development programs across the nation.
This includes funding to small holder farmers to increase food production, grants to expand access to childhood vaccines, maternal and child health programs, financial services for the poor as well as safe water and sanitation programs, among others.
Mr. Gates arrived here on Monday evening.