An enormous gap remains between what has been done and what needs to be done to protect the rights and address the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. At the end of 2003, for example, only 17 countries with generalized HIV/AIDS epidemics reported having a national policy for orphans and vulnerable children to guide strategic decision-making and resource allocation. Closing the gap is possible, but it will require the combined efforts of all those able to respond – governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and the thousands of community groups already struggling on the front line of response.
The lines of response to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children are clear – provided the international community has the political and economic will to pursue them:
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- Strengthen the protective environment for children at every level, from the family right through to the level of national and international legislation
- Dedicate the funds to support programmes for orphans and vulnerable children, who currently receive only a small proportion of overall HIV/AIDS funding
- Scale up projects for orphans and vulnerable children
- Keep adults alive by increasing access to antiretroviral therapy and raising awareness of HIV/AIDs
- Prevent new infections among children by applying and scaling up proven techniques and interventions
- Eliminate school fees and other barriers to education
- Combat poverty and conflict, which interact with HIV/AIDS to magnify the negative impact on childhood.