21 February 2019

Ethiopia: Dialogue to Accelerate CSOs' Role On Women's Health in Ethiopia

CSOs' had a dialogue on women's health with a theme "Meeting Women's Health Needs in Ethiopia; Challenges and Opportunities" in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15th February 2019. The meeting was organized by the ECA, AU Department for Social Affairs and WHO, in collaboration with Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the Ethiopian Ministries of Gender and Health, UNDP, UNICEF, UNAIDs, and UNWOMEN.

This meeting was held as part of the Africa Health Week from 11-15 Feb 2019 and at the margins of the 32nd African Union Heads of State and Government Summit at Economic Commission in Africa conference center aiming at creating a consensus on strategic interventions needed to respond to women's health needs.

Dr. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary, ECA speaking in the opening ceremony highlighted the importance of partnering with private and public sectors to respond to women's health needs by ensuring community based health care is at its best. Dr Vera also mentioned the importance of coordinative effort with CSOs and other stakeholders.

"Ethiopia has made good progress in addressing women's health but a lot more needs to be done" said, Dr Rufaro Chatora, WHO Ethiopia representative. Dr Chatora on his opening remark added that "Having the discussion with CSOs on women's health in Ethiopia is a commendable step by the Government and partners which are expected to enhance activities aimed at improving women's health." He also acknowledged CSOs' big role which they can play in their areas of operation in collaboration with government and partners.

"It is important to make our policy gender sensitive. The country has worked hard to reduce the impact that affected women disproportionately but still we are far beyond our goals." said Her Excellence Dr Lia Tadesse, State Minister, Ministry of Health. Dr Lia also stressed that government alone can't achieve this equity gap and joint effort of many stakeholders is critical to foster the wellbeing of women and girls.

During the half day event, a presentation was made on "Highlights on Women's Health in Ethiopia" by

Ms. Ngone Diop, Chief Gender Equality, Women's Empowerment, from ECA and a dialogue on "Innovative interventions and funding models to meeting women's health needs" was chaired by Dr. Meseret Zelalem, Director, Maternal, Newborn, and Nutrition, Ministry of Health. Finally, the discussion on next steps and the way forwards was moderated by Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director, Social Development Policy Division, from ECA.

The meeting helped to explore opportunities to respond fully to women's specific health needs and constraints and to provide a national platform for a synergic policy dialogue among CSOs, policy makers, UN, development partners and the private sector and all stakeholders. The need for follow up actions on engaging CSOs on women's health was expressed and will be explored.

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