Activities

Child Survival

Education

HIV/AIDS

Child Protection

 

Paediatric AIDS

© UNICEF/MOZA/01260/G.Pirozzi

More than half of the babies born with HIV/AIDS die before their first birthday and most will not make it until their fifth birthday. Because children’s immune system is not as resilient as that of adults, children rapidly progress from HIV infection to symptomatic AIDS.

Weight loss and wasting, related to severe malnutrition and/or opportunistic infections, are life-threatening AIDS-related complications. Mortality rates from severe malnutrition in paediatric wards are high, often up to 50%. Nutritional support is an often neglected but very important intervention for people living with HIV/AIDS, especially for young children.

It is estimated that at least two thirds of children living with the virus require urgent anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment and all need specialised care. By end 2004, around 500 HIV-positive children under 15 were receiving ARV treatment in Mozambique, mainly at the Paediatric Day Hospital in Maputo, and through several NGOs in Maputo, Gaza, Sofala, Tete and Niassa.

UNICEF’s advocacy efforts have helped secure more attention for these children. The 2005 Ministry of Health operational plan for ARV treatment now includes children. The Ministry procured paediatric ARV treatments for 1,800 children. The planned number of children on ARV treatment for 2006 is 6,533, by 2007 the total number is planned to increase to 18,200.
 
Against this background, other critical aspects of intervention such as capacity building, operational costs, treatment for opportunistic infections and nutritional support require urgent attention as well. This is where UNICEF has stepped in.

UNICEF has been supporting children living with HIV/AIDS since 2002. Substantial technical, material and financial resources have been put towards:
• Assisting the Ministry of Health to set up the specialist Paediatric Day Hospital in Maputo’s Central Hospital in 2004: the Day Hospital serves as a demonstration and training centre for pediatric AIDS treatment and care;
• Providing drugs for children: UNICEF has supplied Day Hospitals in Gaza province and Maputo with ARV syrup for 200 small children, as well as drugs for prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections and nutritional supplements;
• Developing a training manual on pediatric AIDS for health practitioners.
• Supporting the training of pediatricians and other doctors in clinical management of HIV/AIDS and treatment and care for children living with HIV/AIDS;
• Strengthening the capacity of 280 medical staff in updated protocols for treatment of severe malnutrition.

For the near future, UNICEF plans to support:
• The establishment of new Paediatric Day Hospitals in other cities;
• Further training of health personnel on clinical management of pediatric AIDS;
• Community-based organisations with training, home-based care kits and communication materials to raise awareness on the need for children with HIV/AIDS to access ARV treatment and other health services;
• Treatment of severe malnutrition within integrated networks for HIV/AIDS care and treatment.

 

 
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