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Extra $8 Million Needed In Ethiopia

UN Health Agency Calls For Extra $8 Million To Help Aid Operations In Ethiopia

New York, Oct 3 2008 6:10PMThe United Nations World Health Organization

(WHO) is appealing for an additional $8 million to fund its humanitarian preparedness and response operations in Ethiopia, where prolonged drought has left hundreds of thousands of the Horn of Africa country™s poorest people at serious risk of malnutrition or disease.

The money raised in the appeal will be used to ensure health-care facilities in Ethiopia are better placed to handle recurrent crises, including droughts and floods, both before and after they occur, according to WHO.

The agency had already raised $10 million to cover its humanitarian health operations for 2008-09, but the severity of the drought – which has hit almost the entire country, as well as several neighbouring States in the region – has forced WHO to seek an extra $8 million from donors.

Flooding last month in Gambela region, in the far west of Ethiopia, has also displaced at least 36,000 people, with pastoralists, farmers and nomads among those groups hurt most by the drought and floods.

WHO said it wanted to use the additional funds to conduct health assessments, improve coordination among aid agencies, boost health standards overall and pre-position emergency medicines and supplies to deal with outbreaks of malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases.

While there have been recent outbreaks of measles and meningitis this year, WHO said it has been able to control them, thanks to its close cooperation with Ethiopian health ministry officials.

“These gains were achieved due to the development of a preparedness plan that showed health providers how to be ready to respond to such communicable diseases,” said Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, WHO’s representative in Ethiopia.

“WHO worked with the Government to implement this plan and raise awareness about the crucial importance of being prepared for such preventable diseases,” Dr. Nafo-Traore added. “What is vital now, though, is that we secure more financial and technical support to both consolidate these gains and improve upon them.”

UN aid agencies have sounded the alarm about the humanitarian situation across the Horn of Africa, and as many as 4 million Ethiopians are now estimated to need food assistance.

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