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Ethiopia: UN-backed initiative provides live-saving treatment to millions of children

Ethiopia: UN-backed initiative provides live-saving treatment to millions of children

A child survival initiative backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided millions of youngsters and almost 1 million pregnant women in Ethiopia – where two out of every five people have no access to vital health care services – with life-saving treatments, thanks to a boost in funding.

The Enhanced Outreach Strategy programme, which provides low cost and high-impact survival interventions for children and women, received almost $1 million in funding from the European Union to help people in four regions: Tigray, Oromia, Amhara and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region.

Between October and December of last year, over five million children between six and 59 months of age in those areas benefited from vitamin-A supplements and nearly the same number received de-worming treatments. Around 5.2 million youngsters were screened for malnutrition and referred to the targeted supplementary food project of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). In addition to children, more than 800,000 pregnant and lactating women have benefited from the Strategy, which has also provided nutritional guidance.

By the end of June, it is predicted that a further 6 million children and 1.2 million women will receive assistance in these areas thanks to the Strategy.

“It is only through the continued support from our partners that UNICEF can provide vital materials and expertise to help millions of children grow into healthy adults,” said Sylvie Chamois, the agency’s Project Officer in Ethiopia, where one out of six children die before reaching their sixth birthday.

In the largest project of its kind, every six months UNICEF provides almost 7 million children and 1.6 million women with six services: vaccination, micronutrient supplementation, de-worming, malaria nets and malnutrition screening. The recent surge in funding from the European Union has accelerated the number of people the Strategy’s assistance is reaching.

Two regional Emergency Nutrition Coordination Units, which monitor nutrition trends and coordinate emergency responses as necessary, will be reinforced and two new facilities built with funds from the EU donation.

UNICEF said the Strategy is extremely effective towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets that aim to deal with a host of social ills – including reducing child mortality – by 2015.