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Encouraging progress for children affected by AIDS in Mozambique

© UNICEF/MOZA01671/G.Pirozzi
Child on ARV treatment at Paediatric Day Hospital in Maputo. UNICEF supports the Government to expand treatment, care and support for HIV-positive children across the country.

Maputo, November 2007 – Encouraging progress has been made in providing treatment, care and support to children affected by AIDS in Mozambique since the launch of the ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’ campaign two years ago.  

Mozambique was among the first countries to launch the initiative in 2005. The global campaign is an urgent call for action to put the care and protection of children and young people at the centre of the AIDS agenda and to scale up interventions for children infected and affected by AIDS.

Two years into the campaign, significant progress has been achieved as a result of the joint work of the various partners in the four main priority areas of the campaign: prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; provision of paediatric treatment for children infected by HIV; prevention of new HIV infections among young people; and protection and support for children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Increasing numbers of HIV-positive pregnant women and children are receiving treatment as a result of new sites for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, improved testing, better health worker skills and simpler formulations.

  • By late June 2007, 350 centres for preventing mother-to-child transmission had been set up, up from 220 in late 2006.
  • Some 65,296 people, including 4,826 children under the age of 15 are receiving antiretroviral treatment, against only 2,330 children in June 2006.

Prevention strategies are increasingly focusing on reaching children with prevention messages before they become sexually active – the age group known as the Window of Hope.

  • At the start of this year, the HIV Awareness Programme in schools was expanded to cover all 10 provinces plus Maputo city. By June, 305,438 children in 717 schools were participating, of whom 49 per cent are girls, compared with 45 per cent in 2006.
© UNICEF Mozambique/ Patrícia Souza
In Chókwè, the First Lady visited vulnerable households headed by children, women and old people.

Progress is also being made in the provision of a minimum package of services for orphaned and vulnerable children, which includes access to education, health care, social welfare and protection services. The government is looking at ways to scale up social protection for AIDS-affected children, through promising initiatives such as unconditional cash transfers, which include transfers to poor households, child support grants, orphan care grants, disability grants and social pensions.

  • By the end of 2006, about 60.000 orphaned and vulnerable children were benefiting from at least three basic services, and 100,000 were provided with psychological and social support through home visits.
  • By June of this year, a further 45,000 children were benefiting from three basic services, and 10,000 particularly vulnerable children were identified to receive a basic package of materials. The package includes household items, hygiene products, water purification kits, school uniforms and mosquito nets.

In her role as Patroness of the campaign in Mozambique, the First Lady visited Xai Xai and Chokwe late last month to see first hand the progress made by the Government and its development partners in the response to HIV and AIDS.

In Xai Xai, the First Lady visited the Day Hospital and the Health Centre, which are providing HIV-positive children and their parents access to prevention services and treatment. She also visited a community radio, where young people produce awareness programmes to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS among adolescents and youth. In Chókwè, the First Lady visited vulnerable households headed by children, women and old people which are receiving support from Kuvumbana, an Associations of People Living with HIV and AIDS.

An increasing proportion of Mozambicans are getting infected with HIV, with most new infections occurring in young people. In 2000, the national HIV prevalence among adults in their prime years of life – between 15 and 49 years of age – was estimated to be 12.2 per cent and by 2006 it had risen to 16.2 per cent.

The ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’ campaign is part of a global initiative spearheaded by UNICEF, UNAIDS and several partners in order to place children at the centre of the response to HIV and AIDS. It was officially launched in Mozambique by the President of the Republic Armando Guebuza and the First Lady in November 2005.

 

 
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