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Mozambique opens first hospital for HIV-positive children

© UNICEF/2004/Thomas
UNICEF Representative Marie-Pierre Poirier helps to open Mozambique’s new Paediatric Day Hospital

MAPUTO, 24 May 2004—Mozambique’s first hospital for HIV-positive children was officially opened today, as the country struggles to cope with more than 30,000 children born each year with the virus that leads to AIDS.

UNICEF Representative Marie-Pierre Poirier joined Health Minister Francisco Songane and French Ambassador Louise Avon to unveil a plaque at the freshly-painted children’s hospital in Maputo, the capital city.

“The Paediatric Day Hospital will facilitate much more integrated support to children living with HIV/AIDS than up to now,” said Ms. Poirier.

Every year, around 30,000 children are born with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. More than 50 percent of them die within the first year, and half of the remainder do not survive the second year. According to estimates, at the moment there are 68,000 children under the age of five living with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique.

“So far, the vast majority of children born with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique have a very short life, which for most of the time is characterized by a sequence of severe diseases. The treatment and the services offered at the Paediatric Day Hospital in Maputo can improve their quality of life and provide much needed support to their parents and other care-takers,” Ms. Poirier said.

The Day Hospital has been established at the Maputo Central Hospital with the support of UNICEF and the Government of France. It is closely linked to the Paediatric Emergency Ward and its laboratories. It has several consulting rooms for medical doctors and a psychologist.

© UNICEF/2004/Thomas
“Maria” (name changed to protect identity) and her daughters will benefit from the new children’s hospital

One of the first patients will be 24-year-old “Maria” (name changed to protect identity), an HIV-positive mother of two from Zambesi. Both her daughters, ages four years and 12 months, were born with the virus.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said: “People here don’t take care. They see HIV as a disease like malaria which comes and goes. But malaria can be treated, AIDS cannot. AIDS is killing many, many people.”

The Maputo Central Hospital has been offering free consultations for children living with HIV/AIDS for 10 years at the regular Paediatric Ward. It has been supported by UNICEF since 2002.

The new Day Hospital includes a specialized pharmacy, where families can collect free cotrimoxazole prophylaxis against Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia, as well as drugs for treatment of opportunistic infections. In addition to this, UNICEF has provided the Day Hospital with equipment and furniture.

UNICEF has also supported the training of the paediatricians and other health staff who are working at the Day Hospital. The next step will be supporting the Ministry of Health in developing a “Manual on Treatment and Care” of HIV positive children, which will integrate the experience gained at the Day Hospital. The Day Hospital will also serve as a reference centre for the training of paediatricians and other health workers. Financial support provided by UNICEF over the past two years totals about $100,000.

While extending its support to treatment programmes for children living with HIV/AIDS, UNICEF will continue supporting programmes of the Ministry of Health aimed at preventing HIV transmission from the mother to the child. 

In addition, UNICEF is focusing on prevention among young people, especially among girls, who are the most vulnerable.



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UNICEF’s Thomas Nybo reports on the opening of Mozambique’s new hospital for HIV-positive children.

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