With little funding, UN-supported program reduces child deaths in Ethiopia

With little funding, UN-supported program reduces child deaths in Ethiopia

Despite being woefully under-funded, an innovative, United Nations-backed health and nutrition program has made "remarkable progress" in reducing child deaths in Ethiopia this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Enhanced Outreach Strategy/Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programme for Child Survival (EOS) receives only 20 percent of its funding requirements, OCHA said today. However, it has been able to reach nearly seven million children under five years of age for immunizations and nutritional screening and supplements.

The program is a joint initiative of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, its Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission, as well as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

To date, five million children in eight regions have been screened and supplied with vitamin A supplements, and four million children have been cleared of worms, OCHA said. Around 2,200 health professionals have been trained in child survival interventions.

As part of its food assistance, EOS is giving control of distribution to village women. Some 6,000 of them will be trained to receive, store and distribute food aid, as well as to educate beneficiaries on nutrition, by the end of 2005.

Funding covers nearly 65 percent of food aid requirements in Ethiopia, according to OCHA, but only 12 percent of the non-food budget is currently being met. Of the $135.6 million needed for non-food humanitarian assistance projects, only $30.6 has been covered, it said.