Pediatric care for infected children
UNAIDS estimates that 2.3 million children are currently living with HIV infection. This represents 6% of the total HIV-infected population, 90% of which is found in Sub Saharan Africa. HIV is already ravaging hard-won child survival gains in some of the highly affected countries, where up to 58 percent of under-5 mortality is attributable to HIV/AIDS. Current evidence suggests that HIV-infected children follow a more aggressive course of illness than adults, with 30 percent dying by age one and 50 percent by age two. The majority of these deaths could be avoided through early diagnosis and timely provision of effective care, treatment and support. Yet, in West & Central Africa it is estimated that only 1% of eligible HIV+ children are accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART).
UNICEF wants to ensure that, by 2010, 80% of children in need are provided with either antiretroviral treatment or cotrimoxazole. To this end, the UNICEF West & Central Africa Regional Office has recruited a pharmacist to support countries in the process of forecasting, costing, procuring and managing supplies of ARVs for PMTCT and pediatric treatment. At the country level, UNICEF has been active in building the foundation for pediatric care. In Benin, Burkina Faso, DRC and Ghana, for example, UNICEF has successfully advocated for the inclusion of pediatric treatment and care in national policies and guidelines.