New York, US (PANA) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday welcomed a US$ 56 million donation from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that will increase resources for programmes in Ethiopia providing vital nutrition assistance to people living with HIV (PLHIV).
The WFP, in a statement made available to PANA in New York, said: ``This donation, the largest ever from PEPFAR, will offer a critical boost to WFP’s HIV and AIDS activities in Ethiopia''.
``Providing the right nutritional support for HIV patients can make the difference between life and death,'' WFP Executive Director, Ms. Josette Sheeran, stated,
Sheeran said: ``Because when malnourished patients do not have the right food to eat, treatment does not work. This generous donation from PEPFAR will allow WFP to reach more people, improving the productive lives of those with HIV, helping to prevent its transference to infants, and helping families and communities with sustainable food security''.
She also said that, ``with PEPFAR’s generous contribution, in addition to the areas previously covered, WFP will work in Ethiopia’s least developed regions, including Afar, Benishangul Gumuz, Somali and Gambella to improve the nutritional status, treatment success and quality of life of PLHIV''.
``It will enhance their food and economic security, support children vulnerable to HIV and contribute to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission,'' the WFP chief noted.
The statement disclosed that WFP’s current HIV and AIDS activities support treatment in urban areas throughout the country, including assessments, counselling and food assistance for those who are malnourished''.
``They take a sustainable approach, which also emphasizes social safety nets and economic activities for affected households. From 2008 to 2010, these activities reached 355,000 people affected by HIV and AIDS in 23 towns. PEPFAR’s donation will allow WFP to reach, nationwide, an additional 375,000 vulnerable people over five years,'' it said.
It also noted that, ``food and nutrition assistance is an essential and cost-effective means of enhancing the success of antiretroviral treatment (ART), enabling nutritional recovery and mitigating the socio-economic consequences of HIV and tuberculosis (TB)''.
``Furthermore, this type of assistance increases the likelihood that patients will adhere to treatment, thereby reducing the likelihood that additional, more costly treatments will need to be found,'' the WFP added.
Martin Bloem, WFP’s chief of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Policy, also said: ``We have seen that HIV patients who are malnourished when they start their treatment are much more likely to die than well-nourished patients''.
``By collaborating with PEPFAR, we can ensure that beneficiaries in Ethiopia are in a good position to return to healthy, productive lives,'' he said.
PANA learnt that, in 2010, WFP supported 2.5 million beneficiaries in 47 countries through its HIV and TB programmes, including food and nutritional support to some 500,000 PLHIV as part of their ART or TB treatment.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 11Oct2011