It often takes a while for the ruling EPRDFites to embrace international commitments in their policymaking framework. They spend much time studying the political impact of a given policy recommendation and strive to find their safe edge within it. It is especially so when the commitment is underpinned with financial commitments from donors.
On the one hand, the Revolutionary Democrats would like to maintain the autonomy of their institutions and appointed officials. Their long years of guerrilla fighting seem to have sufficiently taught them the workings of global development agencies. Hence, their desire to control every aspect of any commitment they enter into.
On the other hand, however, they don't want to lose the monetary benefits of these commitments. Because they are aware that money is the scarcest resource in the development matrix they lead, they often try to optimise the benefits drawn from the financial schemes of global commitments.
If experience is a useful platform for analysis, the EPRDFites are much more comfortable with institutional commitments than they are with changes in policy. Establishing institutions and restructuring them, in order to align with global commitments remains their major trick over the past 24 years of power.
Served in this way are the global gender equality, good governance, anti-corruption and youth empowerment movements. The case has been no different too with HIV/AIDS prevention and control, the rights of people with disabilities, consumer protection and climate change. The EPRDFites are often seen mentioning institutions as the ultimate answers to all questions raised in each of these sectors.
Yet, they seem to have understood the cost of redressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) hoopla of 2000, through their traditional approach. Hence, they rather employed a different route to embrace it.
Just before the MDGs movement, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were pushing the least developed countries - a club of poor nations whereEthiopiais a prominent member - to issue a consolidated policy framework that could help them mobilise external finance more effectively. For the policy gurus at Bretton Woods, the documents - the Poverty Reduction Strategic Programs (PRSP) - were meant to ensure the policy commitments of governments that are often considered as unrepresentative and authoritarian.
Ethiopia, under the EPRDFites, needed to prepare its own PRSP. The economic development ministry took the responsibility to prepare and monitor the Ethiopian version of the PRSP movement.
Ethiopia's approach was unique in that it did not bring in a new PRSP implementing institutional framework. Rather, it took it through the existing public sector set-up. Indeed, this was seen as a cost-effective way of adopting the pressure.
This same lesson drifted into the era of the MDGs. As their preferred implementation mechanism, the Revolutionary Democrats preferred to align their local development planning system with the MDGs framework - a process they called MDG-isation. Since then, the confusion within the local policy circle has become the MDGisation of Ethiopia's five-year plans.
Whenever an opportunity avails itself, the bigwigs of power proudly describe their MDGisation effort, which actually was introduced as a way of circumventing external monitoring and evaluation. As time goes by, however, the system becomes more consolidated, integrated and comprehensive, until eventually it serves as an indigenous implementation framework of the global developmental goals.
It was only last week, however, that the EPRDFites found solid reason to cheer their 13 years of MDGising their developmental plans. Success in reducing child mortality by half, as it was stated in the MDGs, was achieved inEthiopiathis year - two years before the deadline. Between 1990 and 2012, child mortality inEthiopiahas reduced from 204 in 1,000 children to 68 in 1,000 children.
Obviously, the joy is understandable. It takes a lot to achieve the 67pc average annual reduction in the death of children. The health extension system (HES) - a health version of the farmer organisation framework the EPRDFites initiated during their guerrilla years - takes the lion's share of the latest recognition.
Through the HES, primary health care (especially preventive care) is taken closer to rural households. As key players of the system, trained health extension workers took the responsibility of teaching rural residents, especially women, about the importance of preventive health care. They also popularised the practice of delivering at health care centres.
Complemented with the efforts of non-profit organisations in advocating vaccinations and child nutrition, the survival rate of children under-five has been enhanced significantly. And, slowly, death becomes a rare phenomenon.
Such a huge feat could certainly not have been achieved without tailored policies and incessant leadership. And the EPRDFites deserve due recognition for displaying such an approach. No better evidence could be found for their developmental resolve.
But a lot remains to be done in expanding the success to other areas of healthcare service provision - especially curative care. Huge challenges remain in preventing the death of mothers; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; fighting child stunting; controlling treatable diseases and reducing the rate of infectious diseases.
As a result of the deliberate policy bias towards preventive health care, curative care has been given very little attention. Hence, the quality aspect of curative care in the nation has seen a considerable decline over the years. Indeed, it is another aspect that calls for policy attention from the EPRDFites.
It is true that some of the pertinent challenges of the health sector, including the outflow of professionals, might hinder achievements in these areas. Competition for budgetary support from the governmental coffers is also getting intense.
But, even then, the EPRDFites ought to expand their resolve towards meeting the other MDGs in the health sector. A reasonable policy balance ought to be established between preventive and curative care.
After all, wholesome cheer in the health sector could only be achieved when the population is kept healthy enough to contribute to the economic development of the nation. And this goal could not be separated from the whole gamut of developmental targets set both in the MDGs framework, as well as the development plans of the government.
Creating a critical mass of implementing, managing and financing agents over the pertinent health sector challenges of the nation will eventually be the assignment of the Revolutionary Democrats in the coming years. No doubt this will continue even in the post-MDGs era.
As it stands, however, their achievement deserves a standing ovation.