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Gates Foundation pledges USD 500 mln to Ethiopia

Gates Foundation pledges USD 500 mln to Ethiopia

Warns budget cuts could regress development gains

Taking into consideration the challenges of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and highlighting the prospects of the upcoming SDGs, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) revealed the commitment of USD half-a-billion for development projects in Ethiopia on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Haddis D. Tadesse, director for Ethiopia and the African Union at BMGF, said that the foundation has committed USD 500 million to assist the country’s efforts in areas of health, nutrition, education, agriculture, livestock, financial inclusion and the like.

Haddis also said that Ethiopia is one of the few countries that have achieved the targets set for MDGs has shown progresses in many of its developmental activities. Hence, to support the strides, the foundation set aside millions of dollars for the coming three years for Ethiopia.

In addition to that, the new global report entitled: Goalkeepers featured Ethiopia for its achievements in reducing the child and maternal mortalities. Kesete Admasau (PhD), former minister of health is currently the CEO of Roll Back Malaria Partnership (a global platform of 500 partners) discussed the progresses made in Ethiopia in the health sector.

Kesete noted that the establishment of health extension program in Ethiopia in 2003 has contributed to reduce the maternal mortality rate from 843 deaths per 100,000 in 2003 to 357 in 2016. He stressed that though progresses have been achieved, compared to child mortality rates which had dropped by half in eight years, more needs to be done, Kesete said.

However, such improvements have been met with serious challenges. According to the report, Bill Gates, who co-chairs the foundation, feels that as many developed nations introduced budget cuts against global development priorities, it is feared that millions lives could be in danger. “Funding for HIV control has been flat, and now there’s a talk of cuts. A 10 percent cut in funding for HIV treatment could cost the lives of an additional 5.6 million people”, Gates warned on the report.

Haddis elaborated that the report entailed possible scenarios based on best and worst cases scenarios. Based on current projections, global HIV deaths per 1,000 people by the end of 2030 are estimated to be 0.09 percent. But a 10 percent budget cut would increase the number of deaths per 1,000 to climb to 0.19 percent. Currently, according to Haddis, there are 36 million people living with HIV/AIDS and some 35 million have died of AIDS until now.

It holds similar projection for child mortality rates as well. Based on current estimates, the number of deaths of children under the age of five is projected to be 2.5 million in 2030. However, the budget cut is feared to result in the death of 3.3 million children in the same year.

Both Bill and Melinda Gates advised donor countries, global partners, NGOs and the like to seriously consider the negative repercussions of funding cuts, which will take away funding many developing countries require to maintain gains of MDGs and reinforce the ongoing SDGs which targets to achieve zero hunger and eradication of poverty among a number of sets of goals by the end of 2030. So far, 193 countries have been committed to the implementation of the SDGs and the likes of Ethiopia have incorporated SDGs in their national development and economic priorities.