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© UNICEF Cameroon/2005
Some 1,400 women and children participated in a march through the streets of the capital, Yaoundé, to launch the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign in Cameroon.

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, 30 March 2006 – The MTN Foundation signed an agreement with UNICEF earlier this month to help fund HIV/AIDS efforts here, including the training of young peer educators, voluntary HIV testing and counseling, and care for people living with AIDS. The support from the foundation, which is affiliated with telecommunications provider MTN, was the latest major development in Cameroon’s UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign, which was launched on World AIDS Day, 1 December.

That day, 400 children and 1,000 women marched through the streets of the capital in a campaign launch sponsored by First Lady Chantal Biya. In a speech on the National Television Network of Cameroon, Ms. Biya urged strong support for the well-being of children and women, and announced that because young people are the most affected by HIV/AIDS, her husband, President Paul Biya, would mandate free treatment for children under 16.

At an event after the march, two children’s delegates spoke about the threats posed by HIV and AIDS. “We children have suffered more than any other group from the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” said one of the delegates. “Our situation gets worse every day, yet we want to live like others. We want to go to school. We want to receive treatment. We want to play.”

Just the beginning

The activities on 1 December marked the beginning of Cameroon’s commitment to the campaign, and since then the country has seen a host of events designed to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS:

  • From the 6 to 10 February, 20 UNAIDS resident coordinators from about 20 countries in West and Central Africa, and 7 presidents of UNAIDS thematic groups, met in Kribi, Cameroon, to finalize their 2006 plan of action.
  • On 11 February, National Youth Day, 144 young people, supported by the National AIDS Committee, participated in a youth march. They were dressed in UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS t-shirts printed to express their commitment for the campaign.
  • On 23 February, a research center for AIDS clinical tests was opened. Officials at the opening represented many agencies, including UNICEF and UNAIDS.

And on 28 February, in an important campaign milestone, Cameroon adopted its national strategic plan for addressing HIV/AIDS.






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