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Mozambique unites against AIDS

Mozambique launches unprecedented campaign to put children at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic

Maputo (Mozambique), 4 November 2005 – Mozambique’s First Lady, Maria da Luz Dai Guebuza, the National AIDS Council (CNCS), the Ministry of Women and Social Action (MMAS) and UNICEF announced today a joint campaign aimed at putting children at the centre of the national response to HIV/AIDS. The five-year campaign is an urgent call for action to raise awareness about the devastating impact of the pandemic on children and to scale up all prevention, treatment, care and support programmes for children.

The UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign will be officially launched by the First Lady, who acts as patroness of the campaign, at Praça da Independência in Maputo on November 5. More than 10,000 children and young people have been invited to participate in the event.

UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS brings together government leaders, national and international non-government and civil society organizations, community groups, youth organizations and artists around a common goal: to put the care and protection of children and young people at the centre of the HIV/AIDS agenda.

“The response to HIV/AIDS in Mozambique is gaining pace, but much more needs to be done to halt and reverse the spread of the disease,” said First Lady Maria da Luz Dai Guebuza.  “Mozambique is at a tipping point and the window of opportunity is closing rapidly.  Children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS deserve more than inspiring words. They need leadership and concrete actions that will impact their lives.”
 
To date, more than 30 organizations and groups in Mozambique have been involved in the initial planning of the campaign, and more are joining every week. The campaign calls upon every part of Mozambican society to join in order to meet the challenge posed by the AIDS pandemic, including Government institutions, the UN system, non-governmental and civil society organizations, community groups, educational institutions, the business sector, the media, religious leaders and young people themselves.

“This campaign is about working differently to better coordinate our actions and resources,” said UNICEF Representative in Mozambique, Leila Pakkala. “The success of this campaign will depend on our ability to scale up our response to the AIDS pandemic and avoid isolated interventions and small projects with limited impact. If we act now, we can change the trajectory of HIV/AIDS for generations to come.”

UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS is part of a global campaign which was launched at the United Nations in New York on 25 October by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot. It is the largest campaign ever mounted to bring the world’s attention to the global impact of HIV/AIDS on children and young people.

“This campaign is a unique opportunity to create a national movement of reflection about the causes of orphanhood in our country,” said the Secretary of the National AIDS Council, Joana Mangueira. “Obviously, we will have to come to the conclusion that all of us – parents, adults and young people – are responsible for this big scourge that is casting a huge shadow over the future of our country. We need to protect our own lives and the ones of our children, who represent the most prestigious value a family and a nation have to preserve.”

More than one million children in Mozambique are directly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. They are either living with the virus themselves, have lost one or both parents to AIDS or are caring for family members suffering from AIDS-related diseases. As in most of the other Southern African countries, women and girls are particularly affected. They represent 70% of those living with HIV or AIDS.

The campaign is about concrete actions that can make a real difference in the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS. It aims to achieve measurable progress for children based on internationally agreed goals in four key areas, called the 4 Ps:

• Prevention of mother-to-child transmission: The campaign aims to prevent pregnant mothers from passing the virus to their child by turning HIV-counseling and testing into a routine service in all ante-natal care programmes. This also needs to include the provision of a short-course anti-retroviral treatment for all pregnant women who have tested positive. By this, they can halve the risk of passing the virus on to their babies. Every year, around 140,000 HIV-positive women get pregnant in Mozambique. Their risk of transmitting the virus to their baby during pregnancy, labor or through breast feeding is one in three. To date, an estimated 91,000 children under 15 are living with HIV/AIDS, the vast majority of them because of mother-to-child transmission.

• Paediatric treatment: The campaign aims to ensure that children infected with HIV have a healthier and prolonged life by providing them with treatment, such as anti-retroviral therapy or cotrimoxazole, a low-cost antibiotic that can nearly halve child deaths from AIDS-related diseases. Cotrimoxazole fights off deadly infections including malaria and pneumonia. It costs as little as US$0.03 a day. In Mozambique, less than 1% of children living with HIV/AIDS receive paediatric treatment.

• Prevention of new infections: The campaign aims to prevent HIV infection among young people by expanding youth–friendly information and health services. More than 20 years into the AIDS pandemic, many young people still have no access to the information, skills and services needed to protect themselves and their partners. 129,000 girls and boys aged 15-19 are living with HIV or AIDS in Mozambique. Most of them have been infected through sexual transmission.

• Protection and support for orphaned and vulnerable children: The campaign aims to strengthen families, mobilize community responses and provide access to essential services such as education and healthcare to orphaned and vulnerable children. In Mozambique, 326,000 children have been orphaned because of AIDS, and more than 500,000 are caring for sick family members. These children take on the responsibility of making ends meet. In many cases they have to drop out of school to earn income and care for younger siblings.

“The Government of Mozambique – in partnership with the civil society - is re-enforcing its support and protection measures for children through a series of activities”, said the Minister of Women and Social Action, Virgília Matabele. “Among those are a Plan of Action for children, as well as a Plan of Action focusing on orphans and vulnerable children. Both of these plans support the implementation of the four P’s.”

The campaign comes at a time when Mozambique is seeing a significant increase in the number of people infected with HIV. Recent data released by the Ministry of Health shows that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Mozambique has increased from 14.9 per cent to 16.2 per cent over the past two years.

* All figures are 2005 projections, sources Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE) and UNICEF.

For more information on the launch event or the campaign, please contact:

Flávia Dzimba-Cuereneia, Director of the Cabinet of the First Lady,
tel. +258-21 498 511; email: fdzimbac@yahoo.com.br

Michael Klaus, Communication Officer, UNICEF,
cel. +258-82 312 1820; email: mklaus@unicef.org

Emídio Machiana, Assistant Communication Officer, UNICEF,
cel. +258-82 0305100 ; email: emachiana@unicef.org

The official site of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign:
www.unicef.org/uniteforchildren
www.unicef.org/mozambique

 

 
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