Italian and Eritrean Cardiac Surgeons perform life-saving heart surgery on critically ill children at the Orotta Referal Hospital

UPR46: Eritrea’s Presentation on Progress in Health and Education

Development News

At the 46th Meeting of the Working Group of Universal Periodic Review, the representative from Eritrea in Geneva delivers a presentation highlighting the overall progress achieved in health and education.

Right to Health

(Recommendations 131, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, and 228)

The government has maintained a continuous focus on improving access to and quality of healthcare in the country for the last three decades. In close cooperation with development partners, health is now a guaranteed fundamental right in Eritrea. This was done essentially through universalization, affordability and enhancing modern medical infrastructure.

§ The Ministry of Health (MoH) conducted a Third National Health Policy review and has developed the Third Health Service Sector Development Program 2022-2026. Essential health care packages that are vital tools for attaining universal access to quality health care, and increasing equitable distribution of health care services. Current government programs and policies remain aligned with the 2030 SDGs on Universal Health Coverage.

§ During the reporting period, Eritrea has made substantial investments in its Public Health System. These investments in conjunction with other developmental programs have resulted in continuous improvements which have narrowed the health protection gaps.

§ Eritrea has come a long way in improving maternal and newborn health. The under-five mortality rate, for example,has steadily declined from 153 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 37 in 2022, registering a remarkable 76% reduction.

§ Routine childhood vaccination is an important health intervention that helps prevent serious illness, disability, and death in children. Eritrea’s tremendous leaps in routine childhood vaccination have garnered recognition and multiple awards from various regional/global organizations in the past two decades. Universal immunization has been sustained in Eritrea at around 98% since 2013.

§ The MoH has been constructing maternity waiting homes in health facilities for pregnant women who live far from health facilities. Hence, delivery at health facilities reached 83.7% in 2023 from only 6% in 1991.

Map of health centers in Eritrea
Over 70% of the people now lives within a 5 km radius of a functioning health facility.

§ During the reporting period, there has been a marked expansion of healthcare services. The national health infrastructure has increased 3.7-fold from 93 in 1991 to 347 as of December 2023. By complementing this with an elaborate network of all-weather rural roads, 70% of the population now lives within a 5 km radius of a functioning health facility.

§ Besides, public health services are heavily subsidized. Patients are required to make only nominal payments. It is free for those who need financial help. Public and preventive services, such as immunization and growth monitoring, nutrition and supplementation, and health education, are free of charge. Patients with chronic diseases and other disorders, such as TB, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes, and mental disorders, are provided medicaments free of charge.

§ Malaria incidence in Eritrea has dropped significantly and malaria-related death has plummeted to only 5 deaths in 2023. This is a significant achievement when compared to 405 malaria-related deaths in 1998.

§ Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) has rolled out nationally, with IPC and Medicines Therapeutic Committees (MTCs) established in each hospital. The proportion of fully or partially completed test samples has steadily increased and stands at 98% since 2019.

§ The national disease burden has shifted from Communicable diseases to non-Communicable Diseases. As is the trend globally, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer have become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Eritrea. To combat these diseases Eritrea has developed an MNCD Five Year Strategic Plan and policy in 2019.

§ In a nutshell, disease remedy and prevention have increased manifold, disease incidence decreased significantly and the average life expectance of the people stood at 67.7 in 2023 with almost 20 years increase from that of 1991.

Right to Education

(Recommendations 131, 224, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 241, 242, 258, and 259)

§ Education is a high priority in Eritrea. The greatest wealth of our nation is the people. Education is key to lasting peace, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. Education is a fundamental human right of which nobody should be deprived. We believe that education is a key ingredient in realizing human rights. Under the motto “education for all“, education in Eritrea is universal and free from kindergarten to tertiary level. Primary education is mandatory.

Education in Eritrea is universal and free from kindergarten to tertiary level.
Education in Eritrea is universal and free from kindergarten to tertiary level.

§ In Eritrea, the literacy rate now stands at 85% and efforts are well underway to make it 100% in the near future. Eritrea managed to implement this through the construction of new schools, reviewing curriculum and enhancing the capacity of teachers.

§ To ensure equitable access to quality education in remote and hard-to-reach areas, the government introduced Complementary Elementary Education (CEE) and nomadic education. Education is key to the advancement of women. The government is committed to empowering girls’ education and reducing gender disparity to improve access to education for girls at all levels. Withvarious schemes, retention rates among female students have increased significantly. Female students, particularly those within the nomadic community, receive both financial and non-financial support; particularly in order to assist them in managing their household duties while pursuing their education.

§ These schemes involved, providing educational material, opening hostels or boarding schools in rural and remote areas, and improving accessibility through initiatives like providing bicycles for girls who travel long distances to schools. Currently, there are a total of 65 schools dedicated to the nomadic community; with 10 of them being boarding schools. Additionally, feeding programs are being implemented in remote and disadvantaged areas to attract out-of-school children and ensure they have full access to education.

Thank you.

[May 6, 2024 | MOI Eritrea]