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India forms coalition to address the needs of children with HIV/AIDS

© UNICEF India/2005/ Rama
Ms. Kaushalya, President of the Positive Women's Network makes her presentation at the OVC Conference.

NEW DELHI, 5 April 2005 - India’s National Department of Women and Child Development, along with the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), have announced the formation of a high-level national coalition to push for greater prioritisation of HIV/AIDS.

The coalition will consist of a broad range of agencies: government ministries and departments, non-governmental and community-based organisations, faith-based and other international agencies, donors and the private sector. The coalition will sponsor the creation of a comprehensive national policy for interventions for those living with HIV/AIDS, especially children.

This new alliance is the result of recommendations made by participants at the first National Consultation on Orphans and Vulnerable Children, held in New Delhi in March. The meeting was sponsored by UNICEF India and the Catholic Medical Mission Board, a New York-based religious charity.

Participants also recommended the creation of mechanisms within the existing policy framework in India to ensure special attention is given to orphans and other vulnerable children.

Reintegration of children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS was earmarked as a major priority. Health experts at the meeting said that such children are more likely to be abused and exploited if their psychological needs are not adequately met.

At the conference, members of many faith-based organisations and development agencies in India were commended for leading the way in addressing the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS. Their country-wide efforts include disseminating relevant information, vocational skills training, basic education, counselling and even providing micro-credit to patients.

However, the consultation group pointed out that these agencies often lack the financial and human resources to fully address the scope of the problem.

“We will create many collaborative linkages and networks to ensure that issues of concern to vulnerable populations are accorded the necessary attention, resources and commitment without unnecessary duplication and delays,” said the Secretary of India’s Department of Women and Child Development, Loveleen Kacker.

The consultation began with a testimony from an affected child, and the presentation of three other cases by the UNICEF Representative to India, Cecilio Adorna. Leading Indian film actress Sharmila Tagore inaugurated the consultation. She proposed that all affected children needed the existence of five factors to cope with the virus: 1.) a caring home, 2.) an accepting neighbourhood, 3.) a friendly service provider, 4.) a protective government, and 5.) a conducive environment.



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