U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Outpatient Department Inaguration
February 28, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
It’s a great honor for me to be here with you today, to inaugurate this new state-of-the-art medical facility in Shashemene.
The wonderful occasion we’re celebrating this morning is a small reflection of the strong commitment of the United States to invest in the capacity of the Ethiopian people to achieve their aspirations for an inclusive, democratic, and prosperous future.
One of the areas where we’ve made a particularly big commitment, and an enormous amount of progress, is in health care.
Because no country can succeed without a healthy population.
Over the years, through our partnerships with the Ethiopian government and people, as well as with regional and local authorities, the United States has invested billions of dollars to improve Ethiopian citizens’ access to quality health care.
The results of these investments have been impressive, including Ethiopia’s major progress in reducing infant, child, and maternal mortality rates; in expanding the number of qualified doctors, laboratory technicians, and medical researchers; and in building up Ethiopia’s capacity to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases.
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And, of course, our partnership with Ethiopia has made amazing progress in fighting the HIV epidemic as well.
Thanks to our strong collaboration under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, Ethiopia has become one of the first countries in Africa to approach HIV epidemic control.
Over the course of more than 15 years, the United States has invested more than three billion dollars to strengthen the capacity of Ethiopia’s health systems to combat the spread of HIV.
As part of that effort, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has funded the construction of six regional public health laboratories, nine outpatient centers, and a national public health training center in Addis Ababa.
The construction of this new facility in Shashemene continues that tradition.
Funded through PEPFAR, this 3.6 million dollar outpatient center provides 1,800 square meters of high-quality space to increase the capacity of this hospital’s staff, equipment, and structures to fully support and serve their community.
In addition to providing all-inclusive services for HIV/AIDS patients, this new facility supports maternal and child health care, and will also serve as an emergency center to address the acute medical needs of both the Shashemene community and the many people living in the surrounding area.
But while we’re very excited by the completion of this newest U.S.-sponsored facility, we also recognize that no medical facility can succeed without highly skilled health care providers to staff it.
That’s why, in addition to building medical facilities such as this, the United States invests continuously to strengthen the capacity of Ethiopian medical professionals to provide quality health services to the public, and to support the efforts of Ethiopia’s health institutions to ensure that quality and affordable health care is available across the country.
For example, U.S. Government recently launched a new, five-year, forty million dollar Health Financing Improvement Program, which will work with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health as well as other public and private entities to provide Ethiopians with better primary health services while reducing their out-of-pocket expenses.
This new program builds upon USAID’s ongoing community-based health insurance initiative, which currently covers nearly one in five Ethiopians nationwide.
Of course, the United States could do nothing without the strong commitment and leadership of our partners at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and the regional health bureaus.
Your accomplishments, and the dedication and hard work that underlie those accomplishments, prove that Ethiopia is a place where investments pay off, and I thank you sincerely for all that you do.
I would also like to acknowledge the important work done by ZIAS [ZEE-ahs] Architecture and Engineering to design this wonderful building, and the equally important work done by Asmelash and Sons Construction Company to build the facility.
And my sincerest thanks to all of you here today for your efforts to strengthen the vital collaboration between the United States and Ethiopia.
This new building, as important and impressive as it might be, is just the latest achievement in a partnership between our two countries that goes back more than a century.
It’s an incredibly strong partnership that the United States is firmly committed to making even stronger in the days ahead, and it’s one that will continue to benefit both our countries and our peoples long into the future.
Thank you all most sincerely for being here today, and congratulations on this wonderful facility and this wonderful event.