|© UNICEF video|
|UNICEF Programme Division Director Alan Court (left) and Baylor International Paediatric AIDS Initiative President Dr. Mark Kline sign the memorandum of understanding establishing a new partnership between the two organizations.|
By Anwulika Okafor
NEW YORK, USA, 17 November 2006 – Children infected with HIV will receive more medical help, thanks to a new partnership between UNICEF and the Baylor International Paediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI).
Announced yesterday at an official ceremony held at UNICEF headquarters in New York, the partnership will aim to accelerate the scaling-up of paediatric HIV care, treatment and support.
The partnership is part of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS global campaign aimed towards including children in the global AIDS agenda. The campaign focuses on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, prevention of adolescent infections, and care and treatment for children living with HIV.
“The child face of AIDS has always been a difficult one to project because people weren’t focusing on that,” said UNICEF Programme Division Director Alan Court. “People were mainly focusing on adults affected by AIDS, and prevention and treatment with adults. Here, for the first time, we really do focus in on the urgent needs of children.”
Mr. Court and Dr. Mark Kline, President of BIPAI at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cement the relationship. The agreement calls for stronger collaboration globally and at the country level to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality, combating HIV and building global partnerships.
UNICEF and BIPAI will work with national governments to expand paediatric HIV care and treatment in the following ways:
Currently, only a small percentage of children and pregnant women in the developing world who need ARV therapy are being treated. The UNICEF-BIPAI partnership is intended to help change that.
Dr. Kline said he believes the organizations are very complementary, with “UNICEF as the world’s leading child advocacy organization, and Baylor, which is really an organization focused on the implementation of programmes for the care and treatment of HIV-infected children.
“So I really think that it marries the strengths of the two organizations,” he continued, “to enhance care and treatment for HIV-infected children and families, and really to catalyze expanded access to care and treatment.”