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[pronut-hiv] MOZAMBIQUE: HIV/AIDS-affected children need more assistance


  • From: "ProNut-HIV" <pronut-hiv@healthnet.org>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2005 08:57:48 -0400

>From IRIN News
-------------------

MOZAMBIQUE: HIV/AIDS-affected children need more assistance

MAPUTO, 16 June (PLUSNEWS) - Non-governmental organisations in
Mozambique are concerned that not enough is being done to assist the
escalating number of children infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS
pandemic.

More than one million Mozambican children are either living with HIV,
caring for family members sick with AIDS-related illnesses, or have
already lost one or both parents to the pandemic.

"Children and young people need to be at the centre of the national
response to HIV/AIDS in Mozambique," said Leila Pakkala, the UN
Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative, on Wednesday, the eve of the
'Day of the African Child'.

"The HIV/AIDS pandemic has a tremendous destructive effect on the lives
of Mozambican children and young people - a fact that is still widely
underestimated. It is imperative that we rapidly scale up all
prevention, treatment, care and support programmes for children and
young people," she urged.

Ndeshi Friis, a consultant to the 'Hope for the African Child
Initiative', a Kenya-based pan-African NGO, said although considerable
support has been given, "We need to do more, and give more of a voice to
the orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) themselves."

"The children need access to more platforms so they can tell us their
needs, [which can then] influence national policy", Friiss told IRIN.

Besides financial support, OVC also require technical skills to help
them sustain their families, said Irene Cossa, of Kindlimuka, an
association of people living with HIV and AIDS. "They are children
today, but tomorrow they are adults, with huge responsibilities
already," she pointed out to IRIN.

New figures issued by the National Statistics Institute (INE) show that
the HIV/AIDS pandemic is worsening, with the prevalence rate among
people aged 15-49 years now at 15.6 percent, compared to 14.9 percent
last year, and 8.2 percent seven years ago.

AIDS is increasingly emerging as one of the important underlying causes
of illness and death among children in Mozambique. In 2004, out of
97,000 people who died from AIDS-related illnesses, 17,500 were children
younger than five, and there are now 91,000 children under the age of 15
living with HIV.

Around 500 people contract HIV every day, 90 of them babies born to
infected mothers. Half of them die during their first year and the half
of the remainder will not survive until their second birthday.

Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to HIV infection: of the
130,000 young people aged between 15 and 19 estimated to be living with
HIV/AIDS, 100,000 are girls.

Apart from the large number of children living with the virus, an
increasing number also have HIV positive parents. According to INE, more
than 325,000 children and young people under the age of 18 will have
lost their mother, father or both parents to AIDS by the end of 2005.

An estimated 180,000 sick adults are probably living with children.
Besides the trauma of living with someone dying of AIDS-related
illnesses, many of them will be saddled with extra household chores and
caring for the sick, often at the expense of their education.

The Canadian International Development Agency, through UNICEF Canada,
announced on Wednesday that it would support UNICEF's programme for OVC
in Mozambique with almost US $1 million. The programme aims to ensure
that all children are enrolled in school, and have access to health
services, safe water and sanitation.

Sara Zandamela of HelpAge International (HAI) told IRIN that more
attention should be given to the needs of the increasing number of
elderly carers, to provide better assistance to OVC.

"Most of these carers are subsistence farmers with no resources and
they are dependent on the climate. Their first concern is food and
survival. Besides sensitising the communities and schools about the need
for orphaned children to go to school, HAI assists the elderly carers
with income-generating projects and provides nearby safe water, so they
can free their grandchildren to go to school," said Zandamela.

HAI has assisted some 200,000 elderly carers in the northern province
of Tete and the southern province of Gaza.