The partnership between the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is said has resulted in the improvement of the state of nutrition of people living with HIV/AIDS.
This is indicated on Wednesday at the successful completion of the U.S.-funded Urban HIV Nutrition and Food Security Project in Ethiopia.
Over the past five years, the project improved the nutritional, economic, and food security status of people living with HIV. The project increased school enrollment of food-insecure orphan and vulnerable children from 80 to 97 percent, and boosted the participation of pregnant and lactating women living with HIV in services aimed at eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The project reached more than 625,000 beneficiaries through nutrition and food security interventions and provided food assistance to over 260,000 people living with HIV through food vouchers. In addition, the project helped to organize 1,200 village saving and loan associations. These associations allowed members to start or expand businesses. As a result, 130,000 food-insecure people living with HIV household members improved their incomes and nutritional status.
The above 900 million Birr ($42 million) grant, through the U.S. Government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), was the largest ever single donation to WFP’s HIV/AIDS program in Ethiopia.
“The historical grant has helped us, not only to significantly improve the health of people living with HIV, but also to boost their economic status,” said John Aylieff, WFP Ethiopia’s representative and country director. “Better economic status has greatly increased the standing of people living with HIV in their communities.”
Moreover, the project helped break the vicious cycle of HIV and food insecurity, contributing to reaching the goal of zero HIV transmission from mother-to-child. For the more than 11,800 targeted food-insecure pregnant women living with HIV participating in the project, 100 percent of them delivered at health institutions and 99 percent of their babies were born HIV-negative. USAID Ethiopia Mission Director Leslie Reed reiterated, “When people living with HIV/AIDS are food secure, they adhere to their medication and live healthier lives.”
The project was jointly implemented by WFP, regional health bureaus, regional HIV/AIDS prevention and control offices, and health offices in 89 urban woredas (districts) considered to have high HIV prevalence throughout the nine regional states and two city administrations.
The project worked with regional and the national governments to put in place sustainable systems to address the nutrition and food security needs of people living with HIV. The health system has integrated nutrition assessment, counseling and support interventions as a routine care for people living with HIV while the newly established national social protection system has prioritized people living with HIV for social assistance and economic strengthening supports. Strengthening this social protection for people living with HIV requires further assistance from donors.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.