Children and AIDS campaign update: March – May 2007
In Mozambique, partners are united in placing children at the centre of HIV and AIDS interventions. Through the Unite for Children Unite against AIDS campaign, more is being done to actively involve children and young people in prevention activities, and increase treatment, care and protection for those children who are infected or affected by the virus.
Lusophone countries came together to share their experiences on the integration of HIV and AIDS programmes in the education sector during the Sub-Regional HIV and AIDS Capacity Building Workshop. The event, held in May and organised by UNESCO, was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Education in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Brazil, as well as the Mozambique National Organisation of Teachers (ONP) and Kindlimuka, a Mozambican association of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). A presentation made by Kindlimuka gave participants the opportunity to learn about the work of the association and the School Awareness Programme. The programme aims to ensure that approximately 260,000 children in over 600 primary schools nationwide have improved knowledge on HIV prevention and demonstrate positive life skills and non-discriminatory attitudes towards HIV positive people.
United in the goal of preventing HIV infections in the provinces worst hit by the pandemic, Governors from Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia provinces signed a joint document renewing their commitment in the area of prevention among adolescents during a meeting on HIV and AIDS and emergencies. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by the Ministers of Finance, Education and Social Welfare. The aforementioned provinces are located in the central region which has the highest prevalence rates and the largest number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the country. The Governors agreed to strengthen the interventions of schools, families and communities to delay the onset of sexual relationships among younger children who constitute the ‘window of hope.’
The joint programme with RENSIDA (Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS) to expand the School Awareness Programme to all provinces and support 29 PLWHA associations to challenge HIV and AIDS related stigma is ongoing. A coordinator has been recruited to help strengthen the capacity of RENSIDA to advocate for children and AIDS issues, and provide crucial inputs to working groups that include the Ministry of Education (MEC) and the National AIDS Council (CNCS).
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT)
In the first quarter of 2007 there were 25 new PMTCT sites established bringing the total number of sites supported by UNICEF and partners throughout the country to 247. As of May, there were 58 youth friendly health services (YFHS) offering sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents; 18 of which included facilities for voluntary counselling and testing.
At the end of March, 53,414 people including 4,039 children under the age of 15 were receiving Antiretrovirals (ART). In the same period, the total number of health facilities with ART services reached 166, meaning that all 146 districts in the country now have at least one ART facility. The component of communication and social mobilisation within communities, which is being developed, is key to increasing the utilisation and adherence of ART. The paediatric treatment group has submitted a package of communication materials and tools which aim to address communication challenges, to the Ministry of Health (MoH) for approval.
The MoH and partners have agreed upon and finalised the expansion plan for Plumpy’ Nut, the therapeutic food. The plan aims to expand the use of Plumpy’ Nut for HIV positive malnourished children to 51 ART sites in all provinces, with the target of reaching 8,500 children. In addition, 31 sites in six provinces were identified for testing the use of Plumpy’Nut – a type of supplementary food – as a support for weaning HIV exposed children aged 6-12 months. The programme, implemented in partnership with MSF, Columbia University, Health Alliance International (HAI), the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and CUAMM, aims to reach 3,700 children. The supply of Plumpy’Nut was given a boost by the Clinton Foundation who has contributed with 95 tonnes.
A manual, training materials and the monitoring table to enable the collection of data in regards to Plumpy’Nut have been finalised and the training of doctors and senior health workers was conducted in Nampula, Sofala, Zambezia, Manica and Gaza. In the first quarter of this year, 40 medical staff from the provinces of Inhambane and Gaza were trained in treatment for paediatric AIDS.
The two-week practical training courses given in the Maputo paediatric day hospital, funded by the Clinton Foundation and organised with support from the UNICEF staff member outposted to the paediatric day hospital are ongoing. The Beira Central Hospital in Sofala province is now prepared to begin training of medical teams in the central region which will be supported by funds and technical support from the Clinton Foundation and CUAMM.
Ongoing support is being provided by UNICEF for the expansion of paediatric treatment in the provinces of Inhambane, Manica, Sofala and Cabo Delgado through NGO partners including CUAMM, HAI and EGPAF, as well as for child friendly home-based care in Gaza, in partnership with Douleurs Sans Frontieres.
Protection and support for children affected by HIV/AIDS
Reviewing the overall situation of child rights, and following up on the actions agreed upon by parliamentarians to support the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Orphaned and Vulnerable at last year’s regional seminar were among the objectives of the conference ‘Mozambican Parliamentarians and Municipal Authorities for Child Rights: Celebrating 15 years of AWEPA’. The conference, held in April, was organised by the European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) with the aim to mobilise parliamentarians and local authorities to promote child rights and reduce childhood poverty, and discuss AWEPA’s role in facilitating the efforts of parliamentarians and local authorities in supporting orphaned and vulnerable children.
Starting in June, birth registration activities in the districts of Nipepe (Niassa province), Maganja da Costa (Zambezia province) and Xai-Xai (Gaza province) will be implemented as part of the community based routine system. These districts were identified as pilot districts for the birth registration campaign in 2006. During a three-day planning meeting in April, the Ministry of Justice, the National Directorate of Registries and Notaries, NGOs and social mobilisation partners discussed the lessons learned from last year’s birth registration campaign and developed calendars for the expansion of the campaign to other districts, and routine registration in the aforementioned districts. The selection and training of the birth registration teams (registration agents and social mobilisers) was completed in May.