ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - More than 40 participants from the Government, NGOs, donors and UN agencies participated in an advocacy meeting on emergency nutrition, sponsored by UNICEF and WFP, to discuss current food and nutrition interventions for the drought-affected population in Ethiopia and recommendations on future strategies to address the problem.
"The coordination and integration of services of all the actors is absolutely essential among the Government, the UN and NGOs. It is truly the key to meeting the current emergency nutrition situation in the country head on," said Professor Mike Golden, an expert on emergency nutrition currently serving as a nutrition consultant for UNICEF. "We are advocating transparency, openness and full dissemination of findings, because without that people will die."
There are currently about 11.3 million drought-affected people requiring emergency food and medical assistance in Ethiopia, with additional 3 million being closely monitored. The allocation of food assistance and emergency nutrition interventions needs to be prioritised to meet the needs of those most vulnerable to the current crisis.
"Our objective is to save lives through the provision of adequate food, while treating and reducing the mortality of severe malnutrition and preventing the mass migration of subsistence farmers and pastoralists affected by acute, chronic food insecurity," said Paul Turnbull, Head of the Emergency Unit for WFP.
Topics of Monday's meeting included early warning and vulnerability analysis mapping data, nutrition surveys by the Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and recommendations for nutrition surveillance at the community and health facility level. Presentations on general food distribution, supplementary and therapeutic feeding and severe malnutrition and its treatment were also discussed.
"Emergency nutrition interventions need to strategically target beneficiaries, including in both supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes," said Mahendra Sheth, UNICEF's chief of Health and Nutrition. "We also must make sure that health care workers at the grassroots level have the adequate training and capacity to tackle nutrition interventions safely and effectively using the latest guidelines and protocols."
The meeting's participants agreed to form a technical working group with representatives from the Ministry of Health and the DPPC, NGOs and UN agencies to coordinate future emergency nutrition activities.
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