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Action Against Hunger Launches New Health/Nutrition Project In Two Countries With Highest Incidence of AIDS

MISSION BEGINS IN LESOTHO AND SWAZILAND

With little over a million inhabitants each, Swaziland and Lesotho are at the top of the list of countries with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, 33% and 23% respectively. Additionally, the rate of chronic malnutrition affects three out of ten children under five years of age in Lesotho and half the number of children in Swaziland. With those figures on the table, Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF) has decided to intervene in both countries, and since last October, is developing a health and nutrition project that will allow for the reduction of infant malnutrition caused, in part, by AIDS.

“Inadequate diet or infections leading to severe diarrheas are two causes of malnutrition intimately connected to HIV. When a child suffers from AIDS, his system is weakened and therefore exposed to malnutrition. This is why we talk about the vicious circle of hunger and AIDS, because they are two pandemics that feed off of each other” explains Susan Thurstans, HIV/AIDS expert for Action Against Hunger.

Until the middle of 2008, Action Against Hunger will train health personnel in both countries on the detection and treatment of acute malnutrition as well as on HIV/AIDS prevention. At the same time, Action Against Hunger will put in place food security activities which will strengthen the domestic economy of families affected by the virus. In order to achieve this, the organization is counting on financing from the European Community of Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).

Figures of Interest (Human development index UNDP 2007)

Lesotho

  • Life expectancy: 42 years
  • Infant chronic malnutrition rate: 53%
  • Population with no access to drinking water: 21%
  • Population with no access to basic sanitation services: 63%

Swaziland

  • Life expectancy: 40 years
  • Infant chronic malnutrition rate: 37%
  • Population with no access to drinking water: 38%
  • Population with no access to basic sanitation services: 52%

For more information or for interviews with field representative: Alicia García/ Alejandra Mahiques: 609 018735 / 91 391 5306

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