Partners to Improve the Lives of Women and Children
Zonta International’s partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF began more than 40 years ago with six mobile medical units in Ghana. It was one of Zonta’s earliest international service projects and the first time Zonta and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF came together to help women and children in need.
Recognizing even then the lack of basic facilities in the rural areas of developing countries, Zonta International worked with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to establish six mobile pediatric medical units to serve the health needs of mothers and children in remote areas of Ghana from 1972 to 1974. The units were staffed by physicians, nurses and other paramedic personnel and visited six villages a week, providing pre- and post-natal care, information on nutrition and family planning, and treatment of diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, trachoma and leprosy.
Zonta International’s support for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and its efforts to improve the lives of mothers and children globally has only continued to grow since that first project in Ghana. To date, Zonta International has provided nearly US$6 million to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support projects in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Columbia, Ghana, Guatemala, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Partnering to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and gender-based violence in Rwanda
In recent years, Zonta International and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF have focused their partnership on efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and gender-based violence in Rwanda with Zonta International contributing US$3 million to these efforts since 2008. Today, as a result of this partnership, 97 percent of health facilities in Rwanda now provide antenatal retroviral treatment for PMTCT. Approximately 215,000 women and their families will benefit from HIV prevention and care and protection from gender-based violence and abuse, and 20,000 victims of gender-based violence and child abuse have been directly assisted by the Isange and Gihundwe One Stop Centers alone. 92 percent of HIV-infected mothers are receiving antenatal retroviral treatment, and more than 440 health facilities can now collect blood samples for early infant diagnosis for children born to HIV-positive mothers. All of these efforts have enabled Rwanda to reduce HIV transmission rates to infants to 1.36 percent – a remarkable achievement!
“As a partner, Zonta International has shown extraordinary commitment to women and children around the world over the past several decades. The impact of Zonta’s support is immense. Because of partners like Zonta, Rwanda is on track to achieve an HIV-free generation in 2015, which means more lives saved and more healthy babies. When combined with the resources, knowledge, and commitment of partners like Zonta, the results can be tremendous.”
-Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, U.S. Fund for UNICEF