HIV / AIDS and children


What parliamentarians can do about HIV/AIDS



Paediatric AIDS

© UNICEF/MOZA-01675/G.Pirozzi

Progress and challenges

AIDS-related diseases are fast emerging as a major cause of mortality among children in Mozambique. A growing proportion of all child deaths are a result of HIV-related illnesses. In 2010, it is estimated that about 19,000 children under the age of 15 will die as a result of the disease.

The number of children receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) increased significantly over the past five years, from 500 in 2004 to12,647 children in 2009. This represents 27 per cent of eligible children requiring treatment. 

Children have a much quicker rate of progression from HIV infection to AIDS than adults – months in comparison to years for adults. Over 50 per cent of children infected with HIV die before reaching their first birthday.

Impact on child health

Many children with HIV infection do not gain weight or grow normally. Severe malnutrition, especially wasting, is highly associated with HIV, and current mortality rates for severely malnourished patients in most health facilities are high in Mozambique.

Children living with HIV suffer the usual childhood bacterial infections more frequently and more severely than uninfected children. These illnesses can cause seizures, fever, pneumonia, recurrent colds, diarrhea, dehydration and other problems that need urgent medical attention.

Food insecurity and insufficient knowledge of nutrition as well as low coverage of water and sanitation facilities and insufficient knowledge on hygiene practices put the health of HIV infected children further at risk.

In developing countries such as Mozambique, the difficulties in treating children with HIV or AIDS are compounded by the lack of medical facilities and technologies for early diagnosis of HIV, poor healthcare infrastructure and systems and insufficient skilled health staff.

The provision of ARV syrups to infants requires specific skills. In addition, the parents or caregivers are often affected by HIV and AIDS themselves, which reduces their capability to take care of their children.

© UNICEF/MOZA06-00911/G.Pirozzi

What is being done

The Ministry of Health is supported by UNICEF and its partners to expand treatment, care and support for children living with HIV across the country.

Over the past few years, the number of sites providing one or more of the elements of care, treatment and nutrition package required by children exposed to and/or infected with HIV has increased significantly.  

As of 2008, UNICEF supports 146 of the 215 paediatric treatment sites for children living with HIV. The treatment sites are integrated into health facilities to ensure that children can receive a package of services including screening, voluntary testing and counselling, treatment for opportunistic diseases, nutritional counseling and support and home-based care.  

The Ministry of Health is taking a public health approach to paediatric treatment, promoted through linkages to other child survival interventions such as vitamin A supplementation, immunisation, safe infant and young child feeding practises and insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

HIV prevention and treatment are incorporated into the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness approach, in order to detect and treat children living with HIV at an early stage.

The way forward

Between 2010 and 2011, UNICEF and its partners will continue to support the Ministry of Health in the existing 146 UNICEF supported sites and will support the creation of 10 new sites, bringing the number of UNICEF-supported sites to 170.  

The strategy over the next three years is to strengthen the quality of services in existing sites across the country and create stronger linkages with PMTCT services, early infant diagnosis and community activities.  

UNICEF will focus on three main areas, ranging from capacity building of health personnel and communities to stronger delivery of services in the districts to community mobilisation.

Strengthening of policies and protocols, and capacity building

  • Provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Health for the introduction, dissemination of and training on updated national guidelines.

  • Strengthen the monitoring, mentoring and quality control systems for paediatric HIV care and treatment.

  • Provide technical support for the integration and scaling up of nutrition interventions in HIV programmes.

  • Provide training for health workers in ARV treatment sites on triage, care and treatment of children living with HIV, including ARV treatment, through training workshops and on-the- job training.

Supporting treatment sites providing paediatric treatment

  • Support to the expansion of ARV treatment sites providing paediatric AIDS treatment, focusing on the delivery of a quality standard integrated package for children.

  • Provide continued support to the Paediatric Day Hospital in the Maputo Central Hospital to function as a demonstration and training centre for paediatric AIDS patients.

  • In districts that are not covered by other partners, finance some of the operational costs for ART sites and NGO programmes that support the treatment of children living with HIV.

  • Provide drugs for opportunistic infections/prophylaxis (when drugs are not available from the MoH); micronutrient supplements for children at treatment sites; high-energy, fortified peanut-based therapeutic food for outpatient treatment of malnourished children living with HIV.

Communication and social mobilisation

  • Support the implementation of a comprehensive communication strategy to raise awareness on paediatric AIDS and its treatment among communities.

  • Provide support to community-based organisations, such as associations of people living with HIV, with training, home-based care kits and communication materials to increase awareness of pediatric HIV and AIDS and reduce stigma and discrimination.



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