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Women and children most vulnerable, UNICEF
Thursday 21 October 2004
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ZIMBABWE: Women and children most vulnerable, UNICEF

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  WFP

Life-saving interventions aimed at women and children

JOHANNESBURG, 21 September (PLUSNEWS) - Faced with diminishing access to basic social services, the effects of three years of drought and the impact of HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwean families are in a desperate struggle to cope, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

Now, life-saving interventions targeting the country's most vulnerable women and children have received a boost from a funding injection of Euro 1.6 million (about US $1.94 million) by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).

"We are very grateful to the European Commission for their continued commitment to assist Zimbabwe's vulnerable women and children," UNICEF's Dr Festo Kavishe said in a statement on Monday. "This generous contribution will go a long way in helping vulnerable women and children, through building on already existing programmes."

An estimated HIV infection rate of 24.6 percent and about 1.8 million people living with the disease gives Zimbabwe one of the highest AIDS prevalence rates in the world.

"The number of orphaned children continues to grow, with close to 800,000 children under the age of 18 having lost one or both of their parents to AIDS ... Of the more than one million orphans, many children are dependent on elderly grandmothers or live in child-headed households, having to care for younger siblings and forced to survive on their own," UNICEF noted.

The ECHO contribution will be channelled into programmes targeting malnourished children, orphans and other vulnerable children, especially child-headed households, as well as the families and communities supporting these children.

The funding will specifically support nutritional interventions such as therapeutic feeding programmes operating at District Hospitals, which not only treat severely malnourished children but also offer support once they are discharged and return home.

"These hospital-based interventions, carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, will be complemented by a pilot community-based nutrition programme. The programme seeks to better educate communities and health workers to identify the signs of malnutrition, understand how to manage them and to refer children to the hospital if their condition worsens," UNICEF said.

By extending an existing network of community-based organisations, established last year with the support of ECHO, 31,000 orphans and other vulnerable children will also be assisted "to improve their physical and emotional wellbeing". These interventions will include the provision of shelter, and aim to improve access to water and sanitation, as well as education and vocational training.

Aadrian Sullivan, an ECHO field expert based in Zimbabwe, noted that these "collective efforts can help mitigate the devastating impact of the current crisis in the country and ensure that children are better able to cope in the future."


Recent ZIMBABWE Reports
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Global Fund rejects appeal, denies political bias,  12/Oct/04
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With ARVs beyond reach, rural folk resort to herbs,  25/Aug/04
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making A difference for Children Affected by AIDS
Children and AIDS International Non-Government Organisation Network (CAINN)

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