New project launched to help HIV/AIDS-affected families

ETHIOPIA: New project launched to help HIV/AIDS-affected families

ADDIS ABABA, 23 Apr 2004 (PLUSNEWS) - A US $6.3 million community care campaign for families affected by HIV/AIDS has been launched in Ethiopia.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the government's HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) jointly set up the project to support HIV/AIDS affected households, women and children.

"WFP is providing food to thousands of chronically ill, orphans and home-base caretakers in Addis Ababa's poorest neighbourhoods," Georgia Shaver, WFP country representative said in a statement released on Thursday.

According to recent studies in Ethiopia, almost two-thirds of deaths in the capital among people aged between 20 and 54 are AIDS-related. The HAPCO coordinates the fight against the virus in the country, where an estimated three million people are infected.

It will work with WFP and 11 local NGOs and community-based organisations to provide support and care under the three-year project.

"All efforts to care for AIDS patients and look after orphans should continue and be strengthened to avert the spread of the pandemic and prevent the stigma on people living with the virus," Ashenafi Haile, the head of HAPCO in Addis Ababa, said.

WFP said it also "supports the training of community HIV/AIDS committees and groups in participatory planning and action" on HIV.

It noted that the new initiative would soon be extended to two other cities: Nazret, about 90 km southeast of Addis Ababa, and Dire Dawa, some 350 km east of the capital.

HIV/AIDS was also exerting a crippling effect on the country's social services, particularly in Addis Ababa, where infection rates stand at 15.6 percent, said WFP.

The health ministry, already over-burdened, is having to operate on an annual budget of just US $120 million.

Almost half the 12,000 hospital beds in Ethiopia are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients, ministry officials said. The country had 89 hospitals and 3,600 clinics to serve 70 million people, they added, noting that the existing physician/patient ratio was just one to 40,000.


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