|© UNICEF/ HQ05-0710/Christine Nesbitt|
|Children residing at Consol Homes Orphan Care in the village of Namitete near Lilongwe, Malawi. Many of the children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. A total of 20,000 orphans are registered with Consol Homes.|
By Dan Thomas
LONDON, UK, 9 February 2006 – Twenty-five years after the first case of AIDS was discovered, children are still missing from the world’s response to the global crisis, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman told the Global Partners Forum.
“An entire generation has never known a world without AIDS and yet, children have been missing from the HIV/AIDS picture far too long,” she told representatives from 90 international organisations, NGOs and governments who are meeting in an effort to ramp up practical responses to the suffering of millions of children caught in the AIDS pandemic.
This year’s Global Partners Forum, hosted by UNICEF and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) at Lancaster House in London, is focusing on ways to:
UK International Development Minister Gareth Thomas said six key issues – national planning, legal protection, community mobilisation, education, healthcare and social welfare – will provide the basis for the Global Partners Forum’s recommendations.
|© UNICEF video|
|UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman addressing the members of the Global Partners Forum.|
“Getting the money to those in most need is crucial,” he told the Forum. “We must ensure, as donors, that we support organisations in ways that recognise their limitations - in a predictable and flexible way.
“Tackling AIDS in children is not simply a political choice, it is an obligation,” he said.
UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot told the Forum it is vital to ensure that children and young people are part of the campaign to ensure universal access to AIDS treatment.
“We do need to find more appropriate drugs if we are to succeed in scaling up access to children,” he said.
“On June 5, it will be 25 years ago that AIDS was recorded for the first time,” he added. “That‘s a quarter of a century. We are now clearly entering into a new phase to the global response to AIDS.”
By 2010 an estimated 18 million children in sub-Saharan Africa alone will be orphaned by the disease. Children living with sick and dying parents remain extremely vulnerable, and an estimated four million infected children do not have access to appropriate treatments.
Youth Ambassador 26-year-old Boniswa Yantol from the NGO Mad About Art in South Africa called on delegates to take the opinions of young people seriously and to fund youth councils. She said all too many young people are having sex at very young ages and many choose to ignore the risks.
“You the adults hold the resources but we together can find ways… so let us decide, let us plan, let us implement … Help us to make success,” she said. “If you have partners let them seek out and listen to the youth. Show us and help us.”
“We are the young affected by HIV. We are making a difference. We are part of the solution,” she concluded.
Education is one of the most important weapons against the spread of AIDS, according to a joint press statement issued by UNICEF, UNAIDS and DFID. Ending school fees at the primary level is an essential step to achieving universal education. It can only be sustained if the international community increases funding to governments making the bold move to abolish school fees.
Ensuring that girls get equal access to education is also vital, especially as girls are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. The UK government is a key partner in the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), a UNICEF-led effort to narrow the gender gap in education.
In addition, this year’s forum is focusing on steps to ensure that children come as close as possible to gaining universal access to appropriate treatment and care by 2010; to prevent the spread of the disease among adolescents and young people; and to stop the transmission of the virus from mothers to their babies.
The Global Partners Forum was established in 2003 to give momentum to fulfilling global commitments for children affected by HIV and AIDS laid out in the United Nations General Assembly 2001 Declaration of Commitments on HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Development Goals.
In October 2005, UNICEF, UNAIDS and other partners launched the UNITE FOR CHILDREN , UNITE AGAINST AIDS Campaign pushing for a faster response to achieve these global commitments around children and AIDS. Meetings like the Global Partners Forum are an essential part of the campaign helping to move the global agenda for children affected by HIV/AIDS with UN, Governments and other partners.
All documents and presentations for both the Technical Consultation and the Global Partners Forum on Children Affected by HIV and AIDS can be accessed through the AIDS Portal: