Infant Nutrition Among Caritas' Priorities in Iraq

’05-’06 Plan Established

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ROME, FEB. 9, 2005 ( Caritas Internationalis’ priorities in Iraq are focused on health and nutrition, in the wake of the country’s elections.

This was the conclusion of a recent meeting in Rome, attended by all Caritas organizations worldwide which support the work of Caritas-Iraq. The latter also assessed its work in the postwar stage, sources with the group told ZENIT.

«Caritas-Iraq estimates that in the postwar period it has helped 1 million Iraqis, especially through its programs of prevention and struggle against infant malnutrition, health care, and the reconstruction of water purification systems,» a Caritas source said.

These sectors are the pillars on which Caritas-Iraq hopes to base its humanitarian aid strategy with the country’s health authorities and U.N. agencies for the 2005-2006 period.

Moreover, in cooperation with the country’s health authorities and U.N. agencies, Caritas-Iraq «can play an important part in the reconstruction» of a national health system, now virtually nonexistent, according to the source.

The 2005-2006 Work Plan, designed by Caritas-Iraq, will cost about $2.8 million.

It includes a pediatric program to combat infant malnutrition. Started in 2002, the program aids 12,000 children and 8,000 mothers every month.

The rehabilitation of health services in the most remote rural areas is another objective mentioned in the plan.

In particular, a program has been launched to care for the physically and mentally handicapped. Caritas-Iraq estimates that there are in the country more than 1 million physically or mentally disabled people whom it has been helping since 2003.

Another objective for 2005-2006 is a plan for water purification and sewage. Caritas-Iraq is implementing a program of inverse osmosis to purify water, through the installation of six water treatment plants in the south of the country.<br>
The objective over the next few months is to undertake small water purifying projects and construct latrines in small rural communities, health centers, and schools.

The Catholic institution plans to launch a program this year to enlarge its network of volunteers throughout the country, especially among the young.

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