|UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks at the UN breakfast meeting, ‘Making Universal Access Work for Children’. UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth Ronan Farrow (foreground centre), who chaired the event, is at a nearby table.|
By Rachel Bonham Carter
NEW YORK, USA, 1 June 2006 – UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth Ronan Farrow hosted a breakfast meeting at United Nations headquarters today to help ensure that children are included in the global movement for universal access to AIDS prevention and treatment programmes.
Ronan was joined by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot, who last October launched the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign to put children at the heart of the global response to AIDS.
“The goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support,” said Ms. Veneman, “provides momentum to comprehensively scale up and integrate programmes and services.”
Dr. Piot noted that even though a UNAIDS report published this week says the global rate of HIV infection appears to be slowing down, progress with regard to AIDS-affected children is “abysmal.” He explained that the reasons why are complex.
|UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot addresses participants at the UN breakfast meeting on universal access to AIDS prevention, treatment and care.|
“The answer to that is one of political will,” said Dr. Piot. “The answer to that is one of health services that often are not capable of absorbing anything else. And the answer to that is one of the fundamental drivers of this epidemic: the stigma, the discrimination, the shame, the gender inequality and the position of women.”
Progress on the ‘4 Ps’
Gathered under the banner of the global AIDS campaign, international health ministers, representatives from non-governmental organizations and AIDS activists shared their successes, frustrations and hopes for the future at the breakfast meeting.
Botswana Health Minister Sheila Tlou gave a presentation on her country’s progress toward the main ‘4 P’ objectives of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign: prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission; provide paediatric treatment; prevent infection among adolescents and young people; and protect and support children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Ms. Tlou then added a fifth ‘P’ for ‘partnerships’ to emphasize the importance of working together.
An impassioned address from Guyana’s Minister of Health, Leslie Ramsammy, reminded attendees of the “ugly truth” of AIDS. “Every day, another 1,800 children become infected,” he said. “Over the last 25 years, more than 15 million children have been orphaned because their parents succumbed to the virus.”
|Botswana’s Minister of Health, Sheila Tlou, gives an update on her country's progress against AIDS at the UN breakfast meeting.|
Meeting global commitments
Meeting participants hailed programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV as a medical success – compounding their frustration that less than 10 per cent of pregnant and lactating women living with HIV in developing countries have access to these services.
The Netherlands HIV/AIDS Ambassador, Paul Bekkers, said that such evidence of inequity should guide decisions by industrialized nations on how to meet their global development commitments. Among other recommendations, Mr. Bekkers called for holding governments accountable for providing universal access to HIV prevention programmes.
Ronan Farrow thanked the speakers and concluded with an appeal for young people to be included in all aspects of the global campaign against AIDS. "Children all too often are overlooked in this crisis," he said. "I am excited to be a part of the most ambitious and perhaps most important plan undertaken by the campaign yet – to provide access to AIDS prevention and treatment to everyone who needs it. I can imagine no more important goal."
2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS
5 June 2006:
UN urges a stronger response to AIDS, the ‘greatest challenge of our generation’ [with video]
2 June 2006:
UN partners cap high-level AIDS meeting with night of remembrance [with video]
1 June 2006:
Campaign partners urge universal access to treatment [with video]
31 May 2006:
UN leadership charts ‘a way forward’ [with video]
30 May 2006:
UNAIDS report: AIDS slowing globally but increasing in some regions [with video]
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