Malaysia launches Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS
By Indra Kumari Nadchatram
KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia, 25 November 2005 – Children are increasingly bearing the brunt of HIV with devastating costs to society the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned as it unveiled the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign in Malaysia.
Malaysia is the 24th country to launch the global AIDS campaign by UNICEF and UNAIDS since it kicked off at the United Nations in New York on 25 October this year.
Globally, a growing number of children and young people are themselves HIV-positive, or affected by the virus in other ways – including the loss of parents, teachers or other caregivers to the disease.
“Every minute of every day, one child under the age of 15 is infected with HIV, and one child dies of AIDS,” said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Gaye Phillips at the launch event. “The face of AIDS is becoming younger. Not only are girls and boys dying, their lives are being damaged in so many ways.”
Research centre announced
The campaign aims to achieve measurable progress based on internationally agreed goals in four key areas: Preventing HIV infection among children, young people and women; Preventing mother-to-child transmission; Paediatric AIDS treatment; and Protection for children affected by HIV and AIDS.
To mark the campaign launch in Malaysia, UNICEF and the Institute of Health Management (Ministry of Health) announced the setting up of the IHM-UNICEF Collaborative Centre for Health Policy, Enhancement and Appraisal.
The Collaborative Centre will conduct research in order to provide the Malaysian Government and UNICEF with reliable information and analyses to strengthen the decision-making process.
Studies to improve life for children
HIV and AIDS-related studies planned for 2006 include evaluations of the ‘Life-Skills Based Education’ and of PROSTAR (a Malay acronym for ‘Healthy Living without AIDS for Youth’) as well as a study on children orphaned by AIDS in Malaysia. All studies will include recommendations for appropriate action.
“This initiative builds on more than 50 years of partnership between the Government of Malaysia and UNICEF,” said Phillips. “We hope that the Centre will contribute by providing accurate and timely information to health-care decision-makers and analysts so they can offer services which are efficient and effective in improving the health and quality of life of children and their families in Malaysia.”
The Malaysian launch was jointly held by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia and UNICEF. In attendance were Government and NGO representatives, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and children.