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The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have officially opened three new projects – a paediatric ward at Mannar Divisional Hospital Chilawathurai, a water supply scheme in Periyamadu East, and the Gramodhaya Health Centre at Asikulam, Vavuniya – that will bring substantial health benefits to children and their communities in the Northern Province and beyond.

Funded by the EU as part of the European Union-Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) and implemented by UNICEF, the three projects were declared open by a delegation including  the Minister of City Planning and Water Supply the  Hon. Rauff Hakeem, the Provincial Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Gnanaseelan Gunaseelan, the Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Ms. Libuse Soukupova and the Representative of UNICEF in Sri Lanka, Mr. Tim Sutton.

Speaking at the openings, UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Tim Sutton said, “We believe that every child, no matter where they live, deserves a childhood, a future and a fair chance to develop to their full potential. Access to safe water and good healthcare is fundamental to achieving this goal. The three projects we have opened today will ensure that more children – especially the most vulnerable in these communities – will have the best possible chance to grow and thrive, for the benefit of themselves and their country. We thank our partners at the EU and the Government of Sri Lanka for their continued support and commitment to achieving these goals.” Speaking at the ceremonies, Ms. Libuse Soukupova, the Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives said “Access to water, to healthcare are an integral part of human rights. In this regard, we are pleased to partner with UNICEF and the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that vulnerable communities enjoy their basic rights. With the leadership of the Government of Sri Lanka, the technical input from UNICEF and the financial support by the EU, this project will benefit large sections of society and I hope this will be one of the many undertakings of this nature”

The newly-constructed Mannar Divisional Hospital paediatric ward will benefit over 27,000 people including 1,600 children and their families, while the Gramodhaya Health Centre at Asikulam in Vavuniya will provide vital healthcare including maternal and child nutrition services to nearly 4,000 people in the Asikulam area. Both will offer essential services to women and children, and help to reduce maternal & infant mortality in vulnerable communities. The Periyamadu East water supply scheme and pipe networks will provide safe drinking water to approximately 120 households and over 500 people providing sustainable and affordable drinking water, close to their homes.

The EU-SDDP represents the latest phase of a multi-year partnership between UNICEF and the EU that has to-date helped thousands of children in Sri Lanka and millions more across the world to enjoy their right to education, health, nutrition, safe water, sanitation and protection from violence.