Her Majesty, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, paid a visit to Ethiopia as honorary Chairperson of UNICEF Belgium between 9 and 12 November 2015.

Upon her arrival at Bole International Airport of Addis Ababa, the Queen was warmly welcomed by Zenebu Tadesse, the Ethiopian Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs.

On the same day, the Queen visited Yekatit 12 hospital in Addis Ababa, which is specialized on medical care for newborn children. The Queen declared “I am impressed by the commitment of the medical staff, men and women. They provide not only care for babies, they also teach mothers how best to take care of their new-borns. Mothers themselves also receive care. It’s a global approach.” She stressed the importance of birth registration : “a child who is not registered does not legally exist and cannot be protected”. 

The Queen’s mission was accompanied by a delegation from the UNICEF and several Belgian media particularly focused on objectives related to the survival of the youngest in these dimensions: health, nutrition, drinking water and hygiene. “I have better understanding on how to bring healthcare at doorstep of families in Ethiopia”, the Queen declared.

Queen Mathilde met the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Mulatu Teshome to discuss on ways of reinforcing UNICEF’s efforts to improve maternal and child health in Ethiopia.

The President briefed the Belgian Queen about Ethiopia’s endeavors to improve maternal and child health care service delivery in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) period. Over 40,000 female health extension workers were deployed across the nation to improve the health care service delivery and to tackle problems of harmful traditional practices (HTPs), President Mulatu added.

Queen Mathilde on her part praised Ethiopia for its achievements in the economy, health care service delivery and for meeting most of MDG targets.

Later during her mission, the Queen went to the village of Gursum in Oromia Regional State, where she visited the UNICEF project that provides water supply for more than 4000 people. There, the Queen could also see how UNICEF, through supporting the Government, contributes to the reduction of child marriage and female genital mutilation.

During her four-day trip, the Queen also paid a visit to the city of Dire Dawa and other projects for communities living in the Somali regional state of Ethiopia.

During a press briefing at the end of her visit, the Queen declared that “Ethiopia has made remarkable progresses, among others regarding the Millennium Development Goals. The new Sustainable development goals were already implement in the national development programs, with a particular focus on women and girls. Challenges remain, but there are also many opportunities.”

Source: The Brussels Times
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