US Launches $100 Million Plan for Ethiopian Orphans

24/5/2011 - The US has launched a new plan to offer comprehensive support to Ethiopian orphans, vulnerable children and their families.

With funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States government has launched a five-year plan to help Ethiopian orphans.

The US$100 million plan was announced in a press release by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. On Thursday, national and international partners will launch the plan at the Hilton hotel in the city. The Ethiopian Minister for Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, USAID Mission Director and the Director of Pact and UNICEF’s country office are reportedly planning to speak at the launch.

The plan will implement comprehensive and suitable programming for orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).  The plan will also provide care for the families of OVCs, most of whom have been affected by HIV and AIDS.

The plan will be implemented by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Pact and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The plan is among the largest of its kind in existence.

Annually, 500,000 Ethiopian OVCs will benefit from the plan over the next five years.

Last week, USAID held its end-of-programme review for the HIV/AIDS Care and Support Program (HCSP) that began in 2007. In its four years of operation, the programme has surpassed many of its original objectives.

Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is available in 394 out of 550 health centres. More than 88,000 people in the targeted regions are currently receiving ART in these centres. Last year alone, 3.5 million people were tested for HIV. More than 225,000 HIV-positive Ethiopians receive ART through PEPFAR-supported programs. The HCSP has successfully helped to train 22,000 clinical and 11,000 non-clinical health care providers.

The programme aided Ethiopia’s government in its effort to decentralize the provision of care people affected by HIV and AIDS.

USAID’s Mission Director emphasized the importance of partnerships in linking services provided at health care centres with those provided at hospitals, within communities and in the home.

The first case of AIDS was reported in Ethiopia in 1984. In 2005, PEPFAR support the Ethiopian government’s decision to make services for HIV and AIDS widely and freely available to its people. The country has received at least US$1.3 billion in PEPFAR funding, making it one of the Plan’s largest recipients.