Afar Regional Health Bureau Recognizes Save the Children for support on Pastoral Health Extension Program

Tuesday 6 August 2019


H.E  Haji Awol Areba, President of the Afar Regional State

On  July 2 , 2019, Afar regional government launched the PHEP optimization and implementation manuals in the presence of H.E  Haji Awol Areba, President of the Afar regional state, H.E Liya Taddesse, State Minister of Federal Ministry of Health, senior government officials, 34-woreda administrators’ community representatives and representatives of key development partners in Semera.

The high level-launching event was designed to get buy-in and commitment of high regional government officials for strong support and follow up throughout the implementation of the manual. The sustained implementation of PHEP manual will improve the equitable access of essential primary health care services to all pastoralist and agro-pastoralist Afar community, which is consistent with Save the Children’s ambition of serving the underserved.

Save the Children, through Gates funded Anchor III Health & Nutrition advocacy project has up scaled its technical and financial support at national and regional levels (Afar and Somali) since 2018. Save the Children co-financed and coordinated various consultative meetings, workshops, review meetings and experience sharing visits to engage senior health officials, several technical experts and key development partners’ representatives to draft optimization strategy and to develop the   PHEP implementation manual. Furthermore, Save the Children established PHEP taskforces in Afar and Somali regions. The PHEP task force has created platform to bring together interested stakeholders to provide all necessary technical support to the health bureaus, monitors the development process that includes costing and mobilizes the commitment and financial supports of government and non-government actors.

The same taskforce has proactively mobilized one million Birr for launching the manual in Afar regional state and for organizing social mobilization meetings.  Save the Children and its partners believe the successful implementation of the revitalized health extension program will be a turning point for the provision of equitable and quality essential health services to meet the health sector transformation plan targets by 2030 in the region.

At the closing ceremony of the event, the Afar Deputy Health Bureau Head, Yasin Habib  expressed his appreciation to Save the Children for its exemplary and comprehensive support on PHEP and other health and nutrition interventions across the region. He also asked all in attendance to join him in applauding the efforts of Save the Children. Save the children on its part expressed its continued commitment to support the full implementation of the PHEP manual.

The Health Extension Program (HEP), a homegrown community-based initiative, has provided excellent platform to engage the community regularly, foster community ownership and bridging the gap between the community and health facilities through health extension workers. Through HEP, rural communities have been able to access essential health services provided at village and household levels, and it has served as a vehicle for bringing key maternal, neonatal and child health interventions to the community for free. However, the impact of HEP in pastoral regions was found sub-optimal, showing little gains for the pastoral and semi-pastoral communities. According to Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey (EDHS) 2016, the utilization rate of high impact maternal, new-born and child health interventions is very low in Afar. For example, the skilled birth attendants and children who completed all basic of vaccinations before their first birthday stood at 8% and 15% respectively. On other hand,-Afar region has the highest under-five mortality rate, with 125 children dying before celebrating their fifth birth-day. In response, the Pastoral Health Extension Program (PHEP) optimization strategy and PHEP implementation manuals had to be revised, contextualized and adapted to local languages. They were also pretested by the Somali and Afar regions before a final version was printed.