13 Nov 2013 (WIC) - Hailemariam Desalegn on Tuesday reiterated his country's firm commitment to expanding family planning services.
The Premier announced his country's commitment to the cause of family planning at the opening of the 3rd International Conference on Family Planning being held at African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The conference is being held under the theme: "Full Access, Full Choice."
Hailemariam said the issue of improving access in a range of family planning is enshrined in the constitution and relevant policies of the government. He said Ethiopia has committed itself to reach 11.2 million women by 2020 to benefit from family planning programs.
Dr. Chris Elias President of Global development at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his part commended Ethiopia for achieving Millennium Development Goal 4.
"With strong leadership and commitment to family planning, Ethiopia nearly doubled the prevalence of modern contraceptives in the last few years," he said.
He stated that the importance of sustained political commitment is another lesson to be learned from Ethiopia.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Dlamini Zuma stressed the need to fight child marriage and ensure the rights of women. She said family planning is more than a health issue. It is political, economic and social issue, the Commissioner said.
Speaking on the opening session was also UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin who stressed the need to do more to achieve the MDGs in the remaining 700 days. He underscored the need to invest in education and the youths.
Ethiopia's Minister of Health Dr. Kesteberhan Admasu for his part said "Ethiopia has dramatically improved access to modern family planning services and registered notable achievements in the effort to improve access to family planning services."
He attributed the improvement to the country's flagship health extension program which embraced over 38,000 government employed health extension workers throughout the nation.
"These achievements were possible because of the high political commitment, strong leadership of the health sector and unprecedented global support by our development partners," the Minister said.
Keseteberhan also stressed the need for country ownership of the family planning services. "Ownership reinforces commitment. And commitment in turn yields results and assures long term sustainability, he said.
3300 participants drawn from 120 countries are taking part in the four day conference.
According to ERTA, the conference is co-hosted by The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia with a multitude of international and national partners.