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UN health agency rushes medical supplies to drought-hit Ethiopia

UN health agency rushes medical supplies to drought-hit Ethiopia

Aiming to stem the spread of disease and malnutrition in drought-stricken Ethiopia, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today sent a massive shipment of medical supplies to the country.

The agency supplied Ethiopia with 27 new emergency health kits, each containing one ton of essential drugs, supplies and instruments - enough to support the basic health needs of 10,000 people for three months. In the coming weeks, WHO said it plans to send a total of 164 Emergency Health Kits to Ethiopia, where drought has caused crop failures that could spell death for hundreds of thousands of people.

The Ethiopian Government predicts that as many as 14 million people, or 20 per cent of the total population, will be at extreme risk by March.

"To prevent the crisis from worsening, it must be tackled immediately through concerted action backed by sufficient funding," said WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. "Together with our partners we are committed to do our utmost to save lives and reduce suffering in Ethiopia."

WHO also announced plans to assist the Ministry of Health in carrying out nutritional surveys, strengthening feeding programmes and rehabilitating water supply systems.