The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a US$56 million donation from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that will dramatically increase resources for programmes in Ethiopia providing vital nutrition assistance to people living with HIV (PLHIV). 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,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, “Because when malnourished patients don’t have the right food to eat, treatment doesn’t 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.”
With PEPFAR’s generous contribution, in addition to the areas previously covered, WFP will work in Ethiopia’s least developed regions—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.
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.
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.
“We’ve seen that HIV patients who are malnourished when they start their treatment are much more likely to die than well-nourished patients,” said Martin Bloem, WFP’s chief of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Policy. “By collaborating with PEPFAR, we can ensure that beneficiaries in Ethiopia are in a good position to return to healthy, productive lives.”
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. By providing the right foods at the right time, WFP strives to maximize the success of its investments in individuals and communities.