|Delegates attend the Conference on Childhood and AIDS now under way in Paris.|
By Patrick McCormick
PARIS, France, 15 June 2006 – Opening a two-day international Conference on Childhood and AIDS, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy today expressed the hope that a new airline tax would help millions of children affected by HIV/AIDS.
In France, the tax will add one euro to every domestic and European airline ticket and four euros on long-haul flights. Through the measure, which takes effect on 1 July, the government hopes to raise up to 300 million euros every year to combat TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS.
France, Chile, Brazil, Norway and the United Kingdom are leading the funding initiative, and many other countries have expressed interest in following suit.
“This initiative is indispensable because the youngest are often left out in the fight against AIDS,” Mr. Douste-Blazy told the conference. He called on the world to meet the needs of children affected by HIV/AIDS and to “fight this injustice.”
|French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy addressing the Paris Conference on Childhood and AIDS.|
AIDS reverses development gains
Kerrel McKay, 20, a youth activist from Jamaica who helped launch the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign at the United Nations last year, spoke passionately at the conference about the millions of children whose parents are living with HIV and AIDS.
“It is time for the world to wake up to the fact that AIDS does not only affect adults,” said Ms. McKay, who lost her father to the disease. “When adults decide how to tackle the world’s AIDS crisis, children must become a part of their thinking. The needs of children must be addressed in national plans and budgets.”
UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS Chief, Peter McDermott, thanked the French Government for its leadership in the fight for children affected by HIV. He reminded the audience that for every child who dies of AIDS, up to 100 more are caring for a sick or dying parent.
“Put starkly, HIV/AIDS is undoing in 10 years what the world community has spent 50 years trying to do,” said Mr. McDermott. “We have seen reverses in child mortality, child morbidity, access to education, access to health services and developmental gains for children wiped out in a decade – and the worst for children is yet to come.
“The time for discussing about what to do is over. We know what to do,” he asserted, adding that so far the global response has been too little, too late and for too few.
|UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS Chief Peter McDermott speaks at the conference.|
Scaling up programmes for children
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah concluded the opening session of the conference by stressing that real success will only be achieved when every sector of society unites for children against AIDS. Participants broke into three workshops in the afternoon to discuss responses to child HIV/AIDS at all levels – in families and communities, and on a national and international scale.
Such discussions about scaling up programmes for children affected by the pandemic are a key part of the Conference on Childhood and AIDS. The meeting, which concludes tomorrow, brings together the private and public sectors to look at ways of rolling back AIDS in developing countries.
The Paris conference is part of UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS, the global campaign launched on 25 October 2005 by the United Nations and led by UNICEF. The campaign aims to address the particular needs of children in four main areas:
The conference was organized by numerous partners, including the French Development Agency, the National Agency for AIDS Research, ESTHER, la Cité de la santé de la Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sidaction, SIDA-ENTREPRISES and UNICEF, with support from the City of Paris.
Dan Thomas contributed to this story.
Conference on Childhood and AIDS website
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