WFP conference explores protracted relief program

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 August 2003, 04:17 GMT]
At a conference held recently in Vavuniya at the Suvarka hotel by the United Nations' World Food Program, participants discussed the problems and barriers faced at the field level in implementing the WFP’s Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) for the Mother and Child Nutrition program, and possible solutions and alternatives, WFP sources said.

The PRRO program is a 2-year plan by the WFP, intended to improve the nutrition of 79,412 Mothers and children in 6 districts in the North-East.

Mr. Mahbub Ul Alam, the head of the Vavuniya office of the WFP, who chaired the conference, said that the children aged 6 months to 3 years would benefit from the PRRO program and that the program covers the following districts: Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya districts in the North, and the Pollanaruwa district in the Eastern border region.

All pregnant and nursing women and all children aged 6 months to 3 years are already benefiting from the PRRO Mother and Child nutrition program, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the WFP has requested the Sri Lankan government that it should extend the current practice of supplying milk powder to malnourished children to all children aged 4 and 5 in the region covered by the plan.

It was decided at the conference to take the Corn-Soya blend nutritional milk powder packets directly to the offices of the public health services officials in each district.

The health services officials in the region are facing several problems due to a lack of transportation facilities, personnel, storage facilities, instruments, etc., and the arrangement by the WFP to directly supply the officials with the nutritional product is expected to ease some of the problems.

In order to provide storage facilities to the medical officers of health (MOH) in each district, 17 containers are to be supplied to the 6 districts. Medical equipment and computers and better transportation facilities will be made available to the MOH’s offices where needed, the WFP sources said.

In order to tackle the shortage of outfield health services personnel, the sources said that it was decided at the conference to use more people from health service volunteer organizations.

The Provincial Health Services Director, Dr. Senthinathan Kumaravetpillai, National planning officers of the WFP, Ms. Selvi Satchithanandam and Mrs. Visaka Thilakaratne, the WFP’s nutritional coordinating officer in Vavuniya, Ms. Rebecca Mirando, Deputy health directors from the 6 districts, other health services officers, representatives of the UNICEF, MSF (Holland), WHO, AMDA - A Japanese Medical Services Organization, Forut, Sri Lankan Red Cross and other international and national health volunteer groups participated at the conference, the sources said.


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