Remarks by Ambassador Michael Raynor at the Inauguration of Amhara Public Health Institiute

Michael Raynor 
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Inauguration of Amhara Public Health Institute
Bahir Dar
June 22, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)  

Your Excellency Gedu Andargachew, President of the Amhara Regional State;

Mrs. Saharla Abdulahi, State Minister of Health;

Dr. Abebaw Gebeyehu, Head of the Amhara Regional Health Bureau;

Dr. Ebba Abate, Director General of the Ethiopia Public Health Institute;

Dr. Gizachew Yismaw, Director General of the Amhara Public Health Institute;

And to all of you who have joined us on this important occasion, Good Morning.

Today we’re celebrating both the launch of the Amhara Public Health Institute, and the Inauguration of Ethiopia’s first regional public health emergency operations center.

These projects will build on the significant investments the United States has made in partnership with the Ethiopian government to build capacity for disease detection and public health response, and to improve the quality of health care for the Ethiopian people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has supported the construction of six state-of-the-art public health laboratories, nine outpatient centers, and a national public health training center in Addis Ababa, at a total cost of 64 million dollars.

In cooperation with the Amhara Public Health Institute, some of our accomplishments include the construction of the regional referral laboratory inaugurated in 2011; support for the Public Health Emergency Management Directorate to improve outbreak-response capacity; and support for the development of future public health leaders through Ethiopia’s Field Epidemiology Training Program.

While some of our projects focus on building facilities, just as many, if not more, focus on building workforce capacity.

The goal of this Amhara Public Health Institute is to perform critical functions of disease detection, risk assessment, and response to outbreaks – none of which is possible without a capable workforce.

In November 2015, President Gedu proclaimed the establishment of this institute with the objectives of identifying threats to public health and developing the capacity to rapidly respond to such threats, via technology transfer, research, and standardization of high-quality laboratory services.

Today, we’re celebrating the realization of his vision, along with the establishment of an Emergency Operations Center that will also support the same goals.

The establishment of the Emergency Operation Center is another important step for ensuring the effectiveness of our collective investments.

It’s designed to reinforce collaboration within the Amhara Public Health Institute, across the region, and nationally with the Ethiopia Public Health Institute, in the identification and response to public health threats.

This effort involved training the workforce, supporting the establishment of systems, and renovating a facility to serve as the emergency operations center.

None of this would have been possible in such a short amount of time without the visionary leadership of Dr. Abebaw and Dr. Gizachew, and the outstanding technical and logistics support provided by Dr. Zenebe and his terrific team at the Columbia University International Center for AIDS Programs.

Their efforts reinforce the United States’ view, based on our experience both globally and domestically, that protecting the health of our citizens requires strong networks of collaboration and sharing our experiences across institutions and stakeholders.

In that sense, the United States sees itself as very much a stakeholder in the development of Ethiopia’s public health institutions.

The importance of our investments goes well beyond the Amhara region, and beyond Ethiopia itself.

In our increasingly interconnected world, securing our health requires a global effort.

To succeed in this, we need strong partners for collaboration, and I commend Ethiopia’s longstanding commitment to partner with us on health.

Our goal is to help our partners to be as strong as possible.

We know that the United States too will be safer and stronger when we work side-by-side with successful and committed partners like Ethiopia.

And we’re already seeing results of this partnership.

This year, we mark 15 years of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, better known as PEPFAR.

And we have plenty of reasons to celebrate this milestone: the country is on the verge of controlling the HIV epidemic, one of the first PEPFAR-supported countries in Africa to do so.

Thanks to high coverage of life-saving anti-retroviral treatment among people living with HIV, and other prevention measures, Ethiopia has significantly reduced the number of new cases annually.  Today, with PEPFAR assistance, over 450,000 people in Ethiopia are receiving life-saving treatment at over 1,000 sites, marking tremendous progress toward the ultimate goal of identifying 90% of all cases, ensuring that 90% of those cases receive treatment, and ensuring that 90% of treated cases achieve viral suppression.

While the United States has made significant investments in supporting Ethiopia to establish a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program, this strong progress has only been possible due to the strong leadership shown by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and the regional health bureaus.

They have capitalized on our investments through PEPFAR by expanding health infrastructure, promoting workforce development, and building resilient institutions.

Because of this leadership, Ethiopia is in a strong position to serve as a model for how to sustain control of the epidemic.

Ethiopia’s achievements are an example for the world, and a symbol of what we can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal.

They also show us that our investments in strengthening Ethiopia’s capacity are well placed, and that we can expect a continued return on those investments in the form of a healthier and safer Ethiopia, and a healthier, safer world.

Again, I’d like to congratulate Ethiopia for its ongoing and impactful commitment to strengthening national and regional health institutions.

And I wish to reiterate the United States’ strong commitment to supporting the Ethiopian government in building its capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging health threats, and to deliver high-quality health services to its people.

Thank you.