Children and HIV and AIDS

Global Partners Forum pledges action on children and AIDS

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© UNICEF/ HQ05-0730/Christine Nesbitt
Girls from the Sihlangatsini neighbourhood care point near Mbabane, Swaziland. Many of the children who come to the centre are from child-headed households or have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

By Dan Thomas

LONDON, UK, 10 February 2006 – Partners in the struggle to help children affected by HIV and AIDS wrapped up a two-day meeting pledging to do more and do it better.

"Our focus must be on action. We must have action to improve the lives of children, their families and their communities,” Baroness Royall from the UK’s House of Lords told the Global Partners Forum on Children Affected by HIV and AIDS.

“The spotlight is focused firmly on AIDS, and we are rightly expected to deliver," she said in her closing speech.

This year’s Global Partners Forum, hosted by UNICEF and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) at Lancaster House in London on February 9 and 10 brought together representatives from more than 90 international organisations, NGOs and Governments in an effort to improve practical responses to the suffering of children caught in the AIDS pandemic.

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© UNICEF/2006 Dan Thomas
Baroness Royall from the UK’s House of Lords calls for action.

By 2010 an estimated 18 million children in sub-Saharan Africa alone will be orphaned by the disease. Children living with sick and dying parents remain extremely vulnerable, and an estimated four million infected children do not have access to appropriate treatments.

Education as a weapon against AIDS

For the first time since it was launched in 2003, the Forum was preceded by a Technical Consultation attended by around 150 representatives of civil society, governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, UN agencies and academics from around the world.

Many of the recommendations from the Technical Consultation were discussed at the Global Partners Forum where delegates were asked to rate their preferences for various interventions to support children affected by AIDS. One vote, for example, showed a clear majority in favour of the elimination of school fees and the need to enable girls to complete their secondary education.

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© UNICEF/2006 Dan Thomas
Ivorian AIDS Minister Christine Nebout-Adjobi

Education is one of the most important weapons against the spread of AIDS, according to a joint press statement issued by UNICEF, UNAIDS and DFID. Ending school fees at the primary level is an essential step to achieving universal education. It can only be sustained if the international community increases funding to governments making the bold move to abolish school fees.

Ensuring that girls get equal access to education is also vital, especially as girls are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. The UK Government is a key partner in the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), a UNICEF-led effort to narrow the gender gap in education.

Children’s access to life-saving drugs was also a hot topic at this year’s Global Partners Forum with many delegates decrying the fact that the cost of AIDS drugs for children is about six times higher than adult drug regimes.

Working together

Speaking in an interview on Thursday night, Hilary Benn, the UK Secretary of State for International Development said partnership between affected communities, governments, civil society organisations, UN agencies and donor nations was vital.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2006 Dan Thomas
UNICEF HIV/AIDS Chief Peter McDermott

"Without developing countries having the capacity and the money to employ the doctors and nurses and buy the drugs and run the clinics, do the testing, decide when people need ART (antiretroviral therapy) treatment, you won't keep people alive. And without the international community to offer its support, its money, and its assistance, none of these things are going to happen. So this really has to be a joint effort if we're going to beat this epidemic," said Benn.

The Global Partners Forum was established in 2003 to give momentum to fulfilling global commitments for children affected by HIV and AIDS laid out in the United Nations General Assembly 2001 Declaration of Commitments on HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Development Goals.

In her closing remarks, Ivorian AIDS Minister Christine Nebout-Adjobi called on partners and donors not to make a distinction between high-prevalence and low-prevalence countries. She also commended UNICEF and UNAIDS on starting the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign last October.

“Cote d’Ivoire heartily welcomes the global campaign for children and HIV/AIDS which we hope will contribute to greater attention to the special needs of children affected by HIV/AIDS,” she said.

The campaign is pushing for a faster response to achieve these global commitments around children and AIDS. UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS Chief Peter McDermott said, "On behalf of UNICEF, I really do think that the spirit of this meeting is really the spirit of the campaign. We're beginning to unite for children; and by uniting for children, we're uniting against HIV/AIDS, and that's what we're really about."

Meetings like the Global Partners Forum are an essential part of the campaign helping to push forward the global agenda for children affected by HIV/AIDS with UN, Governments and other partners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Video

10 February 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on day two of the Global Partners Forum in London.

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10 February 2006:
Interview with Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development, on the role of the Global Partners Forum.

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10 February 2006:
Interview with Ahmed Hussein Ahmed, Kenya’s Director of Children’s Services, on addressing the needs at the community level.

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10 February 2006:
Interview with Father Michael Kelly from the University of Zambia on the importance of partnership.

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10 February 2006:
Interview with Boipelo Seitlhamo, from the Marang Childcare Network in Botswana.

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10 February 2006:
Interview with Vincent O’Neill, from Development Cooperation Ireland.

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Speeches

Read UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman's keynote speech [pdf]

Read UK International Development Minister Gareth Thomas' keynote speech [pdf]

Read UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot's full speech [pdf]

Read Youth Ambassador Boniswa Yantol's full speech [pdf]

Read Baroness Royall’s closing speech [pdf]

Background Documents

All documents and presentations for both the Technical Consultation and the Global Partners Forum on Children Affected by HIV and AIDS can be accessed through the AIDS Portal:

Documents Technical Consultation

Presentations Technical Consultation

Documents Global Partners Forum

Presentations Global Partners Forum

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