SANTO DOMINGO, November 6, 2014, Dominican Republic – The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA Dominicana) launched in September a Food Aid Program at a cost of $565,298.37, through which, 150 metric tons of dehydrated food will be distributed to over 20,700 people in eleven provinces of the Dominican Republic.

For eight consecutive years, USAID and BRA have launched this food program to reduce malnutrition and the lack of food among the most vulnerable people, including pregnant women, children and adults who are severely affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hunger in impoverished sugarcane plantations rural communities known as “bateyes”, marginalized slums and other rural and border communities. This program corresponds to the objective of the US government to provide quality health services that enable the population to contribute productively to the society.

This program will be carried out in partnership with Dominican government agencies, such as the Ministry of Public Health, through Health Directorates in provinces including Hato Mayor and Monte Plata. Additionally, some 22 non-governmental organizations, such as Red Dominicana de Personas que Viven con VIH/SIDA (REDOVIH), Alianza Solidaria para la Lucha contra el VIH/SIDA (ASOLSIDA), Grupo Paloma, Centro de Promoción y Solidaridad Humana (CEPROSH), Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID), and dozens of community health promoters who will participate in the distribution of these food products.

BRA’s Chief Executive Officer, Ulrick Gaillard, pointed out that the Food Aid Program will complement three other important BRA programs: Maternal-child Health that provides multivitamins and Antiparasitic medicines to 37,300 children and 8,798 pregnant and lactating women; HIV prevention in the Gay, Lesbians Bisexual and transsexual populations (GLBT), prevention for people living with HIV and AIDS, promotion of voluntary HIV testing; and treatment and follow-ups. All beneficiaries will receive free food as part of their treatment and prevention of malnutrition.

According to a recently-published National Demographic and Health survey (ENDESA) 2013, 7 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, and 2 percent have stunted growth in severe condition as compared to the standard of World Health Organization (WHO). Likewise, a decrease of stunting of three per cent was recorded below that found 6 years ago, though severe malnutrition showed no change. Acute malnutrition of the population under five years remained at 2 per cent, similar to that found in (ENDESA) 2007 figures.

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