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Haiti to boost child and maternal health and nutrition and pilot social safety nets with IDB assistance

The Inter-American Development Bank today approved a $5.5 million grant to help improve infant and child health and nutrition and improve social safety nets to fight extreme poverty in Haiti.

Haiti has the highest levels of child mortality in the Western Hemisphere. More than 20,000 children under five years of age die every year as a result of diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections and other treatable ailments associated with malnutrition.

In order to alleviate this problem, the IDB will support a two-pronged approach. On one hand it will improve and expand the reach of Child Health Weeks, a bi-annual campaign to deliver vitamin A supplements, de-worming and zinc capsules, as well as other critical child survival interventions at the national level.  It will also invest in the promotion of breastfeeding, the treatment of acute malnutrition and assist the Government in creating a fortification system so that micronutrients can be added to the staple foods and utilize the market channels to distribute the needed micronutrients such as iron to the population.

On the other hand it will finance a creation of a social information system and pilot a safety net program in maternal and child healthcare using community workers. This will serve as a planning tool for broader safety net programs. It will also initiate a national program for the treatment of acute malnutrition with locally produced Ready-to-use-therapeutic-food.

Under the program, the distribution of vitamin A supplements will more than double over a four-year period from the current 31 percent to 70 percent of children under five years of age. Additionally, the program is expected to cut in half the incidence of infants affected by intestinal parasites.

The IDB resources for this project include $3 million from its Food Price Crisis Response Fund and $2.5 million from its Grant Facility and. The Government of Haiti will provide an additional $2.5 million in local counterpart funds.

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