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Health and Nutrition

Key UNICEF Actions

  • Within 72 hours of the disaster, UNICEF provided emergency health kits containing basic health supplies for three months for 150,000 people.
  • Insecticide treated bed nets were provided to 66,000 families.
  • UNICEF supported the restoration of referral mechanisms and outreach services.
  • 34 vehicles, including ambulances, were provided to the Ministry of Health as well as 124 motorcycles for public health inspectors.
  • Emergency obstetric care items were provided for 62 hospitals, and 50 health centers were provided with equipment for growth monitoring and antenatal care services.
  • UNICEF also participated in two important assessments for response planning. Two rounds of nutritional and health surveys jointly conducted with Medical Research Institute/WFP/UNICEF, a joint nutritional survey in IDP camps of affected districts and Pfizer/WHO/UNICEF joint assessment of district storage facilities and inventory systems.

Key results

  • UNICEF contributed to the prevention of the outbreak of disease, respiratory problems as well as injuries from rubble.
  • The incidence of diarrhoeal diseases in camps was reduced from 17.6 per cent in February to 11.1 per cent in May 2005.
  • Essential care facilities were restored within weeks after the tsunami disaster.
  • Routine immunization and nutrition surveillance systems were established.
  • Vitamin A supplementation coverage of the target group of children under 5 increased from 33 per cent in January to 98 per cent in April 2005.
  • The Integrated Early Childhood approach was expanded to all tsunami affected districts.
  • As a result of UNICEF advocacy, the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition has formulated a national nutrition policy which is to be submitted for Cabinet approval.

Ongoing activities

  • UNICEF is pursuing the rebuilding of the cold chain (refrigeration) for vaccines and supporting immunization campaigns in the tsunami affected zones. Over 100,000 persons currently benefit from cold chain supplies in eight tsunami-hit districts.
  • UNICEF is funding the construction and rehabilitation of 24 health centers, six district hospital units and three regional medical stores as well as two base unit hospitals. The first finalized health centre was inaugurated in Hambantota in February 2006.
  • 55,000 pregnant women benefit from UNICEF-assisted iron supplementation.



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