UNICEF joins with the China National Committee for the Care of Children (CNCCC) to help develop care and protection policies for China’s HIV/AIDS affected children20 JULY, 2005 - A one-day Seminar on “Care and Love for Children affected by HIV/AIDS” opened this morning at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Hosted by the China National Committee for the Care of Children (CNCCC), the Seminar brought together high-ranking Government officials, experts and representatives from governmental and civil society organizations working to turn back the HIV/AIDS epidemic in China.
In his speech to the opening session, UNICEF Representative to China, Dr Christian Voumard, praised the Chinese leadership for developing policies which UNAIDS Director Mr Peter Piot had recognized as moving from “the what” to addressing ”the how” of confronting the epidemic. Dr Voumard, who also chairs the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS, referred to the “Four Frees and One Care” policy. This, he claimed, demonstrated the strong commitment already shown by the Chinese leadership in addressing “the seriousness and complexity of an epidemic which has been recognized as one of the greatest challenges of our time”. Urging Seminar participants to do yet more to protect and care for the children affected by the epidemic, Dr Voumard told of how HIV/AIDS touched every aspect of children’s lives, emphasizing that “the emotional toll alone can be devastating as children suffer from isolation, loss of self-esteem and depression”.
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Adviser on HIV/AIDS, Ms Wing-Sie Cheng, opened the first working session of the seminar by presenting a report on the global and regional situation of children affected by HIV/AIDS. Mr Han Menjie, Assistant Director of the State Council Coordination Office for HIV/AIDS, followed with a report on the specifics of the situation in China. Other speakers at the morning session included child representatives, a reporter from CCTV who spoke of the role of the media in combating the epidemic and representatives from the CNCCC and several NGOs.
The child delegates, all from Yunnan and Anhui provinces and HIV/AIDS affected, ranged from 8 to 16 years old. They had received training on child rights for three days before the meeting and they courteously asked participants to respect their rights by not taking photographs or recordings. They also invited delegates to make pledges on cardboard “apples” which they then collected and placed on a large paper tree. One of the child delegates movingly proclaimed that “our common enemy is HIV/AIDS and not those who are infected”.
The afternoon session on Policy Analysis and Development opened with a presentation on current national policies for children affected by HIV/AIDS by Professor Gui Xian of Wuhan University. Mr Peter McDermott, chief of UNICEF’s Global Unit on HIV/AIDS focused his presentation on the Global Framework for the: Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children, citing examples from countries such as Kenya, Thailand and South Africa which had made good progress with policy development. Mc Dermott saw two major obstacles to moving forward with policy development as being firstly the lack of scientific understanding of how HIV/AIDS affects children in China. The second obstacle was instead the need to reduce discrimination against children affected by HIV/AIDS and their families. The session closed with a panel discussion, bringing together Government officials, technical experts and representatives from both community-level and international organizations, together with child representatives attending the Seminar.
UNICEF hosted an evening reception for Seminar participants in the garden of the Beijing office which was also attended by national and international media and representatives from civil society organizations actively engaged in combating the epidemic. UNICEF, together with the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS and the CNCCC, jointly launched a set of eight recommended responses for companies seeking to address the HIV/AIDS and children issue in China. UNICEF also presented awards to corporates and organizations which had already shown leadership in promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS. Recipients included the US National Basketball Association (NBA) which, as a member of the Global Business Coalition, had recently organized with Chinese superstar Yao Ming a visit by star NBA players to China which had helped address the HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination issue.
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