The European Investment Bank (EIB) has allocated €1 million (approximately BIRR 61 million) to the World Health Organization (WHO) for a technical assistance initiative aimed at fortifying Ethiopia’s primary healthcare system.
The Ethiopian government seeks to enhance its primary healthcare infrastructure by 2024, aligning with its goal of achieving universal health coverage and bolstering health system resilience.
The EIB’s funding will be executed through a partnership between the WHO and the EIB, enabling the WHO to harness local, regional, and international expertise and resources to enhance primary healthcare services in Ethiopia.
This collaboration also aligns with the Ethiopian government’s Growth and Transformation Plan II, emphasizing the strengthening of primary healthcare as a critical priority.
The support provided by the EIB’s technical assistance program lays the foundation for future efforts by the bank and other institutions to enhance Ethiopia’s healthcare system.
Earlier this year, the EIB’s President Werner Hoyer, in collaboration with the WHO and the European Commission, joined Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO and fellow heads of multilateral development banks to launch a new health impact platform aimed at enhancing health system resilience, with a particular focus on primary healthcare in Sub-Saharan African countries.
President Hoyer expressed the EIB’s commitment to allocate a minimum of €500 million to strengthen health systems, particularly primary healthcare, in Sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative aims to mobilize at least €1 billion in investments through a tri-alliance with the European Commission and WHO, reinforcing healthcare in the region.
This financial support aligns with the European Union’s Global Gateway strategy, which emphasizes strengthening global healthcare capacities. The strategy emphasizes facilitating investments in health infrastructure, improving regulatory frameworks for local medicine production, and adopting advanced technologies.
Leyla Traoré, Head of the EIB Representative Office in Ethiopia, highlighted the significance of access to quality healthcare in a growing economy like Ethiopia. Improved healthcare can reduce the disease burden, enhance health outcomes, increase productivity, and foster economic growth.
“As the EIB, we are committed to supporting Ethiopia build and strengthen its resilience in its healthcare industry. Working with WHO and the Federal Government of Ethiopia, we shall use effective financing tools to invest in the areas which they shall identify to benefit from a profound and positive impact,” she said.
Dr. Nonhlanhla Dlamini, Acting Representative of WHO Ethiopia Country Office, emphasized the urgent need to strengthen primary healthcare units as the first responders for emergency and critical care services. These units are essential in establishing referral linkages within Ethiopia’s healthcare system.
“WHO is proud to partner with EIB and Team Europe on this important initiative which will help ensure that all Ethiopians have access to quality health care, regardless of their location or income,” said Dlamini.
Dr. Faraz Khalid, a research officer with WHO, emphasized the partnership’s objective of prioritizing investments in education, employment of health personnel, infrastructure, water, hygiene, and sanitation. These investments leverage WHO’s technical expertise and advisory role in guiding EIB investments in the health sector.
Ethiopia’s primary healthcare units, anchored on the Health Extension Program, consist of 17,550 health posts and 3,735 health centers nationwide. By efficiently using these, the second Health Sector Transformation Plan of Ethiopia 2020/2021-2024/25 aims to advance towards universal health coverage.These units play a pivotal role in advancing universal health coverage and providing essential healthcare services, including preventive, curative, and rehabilitative care.
The primary health care unit is the smallest division in the Ethiopian health tier system and is the unit most accessible to the general population and communities within the health system. It provides essential healthcare services, including preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services. “By serving as the cornerstone of primary healthcare provision, these units have helped millions of people in Ethiopia, especially those in rural communities, achieve equitable access to healthcare,” said Dr. Lia Tadesse, the country’s minister for health.
The EIB’s technical assistance operation aligns with several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to health and well-being, reducing inequality, and sustainable development. It underscores the commitment to “Leave No One Behind” and ensures that Ethiopia’s population benefits from a resilient health system encompassing vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
The European Investment Bank has been actively engaged in Ethiopia since 1984, supporting both the public and private sectors. It has signed 31 operations with a cumulative value of €490 million (approximately BIRR 30 billion), focusing on financial services, energy, agriculture, water infrastructure, and private sector investments.
As the long-term lending institution of the European Union, the EIB strives to provide financing for sound investments to advance EU policy objectives.