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© UNICEF/HQ05-1726/Georgina Cranston
Children celebrate the launch of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign in Juba, Sudan. Simultaneous events also took place in the cities of Khartoum and Kassala.

By Paula Claycomb

KHARTOUM, Sudan, 1 December 2005 – Over 1,200 Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, government authorities and UNICEF officials came together at Khartoum’s Friendship Hall this morning to launch the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign. Simultaneous activities took place in Kassala in the east, Juba in the south and other towns throughout the country.

First Lady Widad Babiker and the new Minister of Health for the Government of National Unity, Thabitha Shokaya, joined UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban in stressing the importance of tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Master of Ceremonies in Khartoum was well known actor and children’s advocate Ali Mahdi, who repeated throughout his comments the vital role that everyone in government, the private sector and civil society must play to ensure that the prevalence rate in Sudan does not climb higher than the current 1.6 per cent.

The ‘Four Ps’

UNICEF’s Ted Chaiban said that children today “are still the missing face of AIDS.” He said they miss parents, teachers, treatment and care – but do not escape from the devastating effects of the disease. Chaiban described the campaign approach of the ‘Four Ps’. The first is prevention amongst children and young people. Both Chaiban and Sudan National AIDS Programme Manager Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hafez advocated for an expanded ‘peer education’ programme throughout the country, so that young people themselves will help prevent further HIV infection amongst their peers.

© UNICEF Sudan/2005/El Tom
Ali Mahdi, a well known actor and advocate for children in Sudan, was the master of ceremonies for the launch in Khartoum.

The second and third ‘Ps’ – prevention of mother to child transmission and paediatric treatment – are still in their early stages in Sudan. All seven speakers emphasized the importance of expanding these programmes and committed to ensuring that in 2006, free treatment for women and children will begin to be available in Sudan.

Some 23,000 people have already died in the northern part of Sudan, leaving an estimated 60,000 orphans. That is why the protection, care and support for children who are left vulnerable because of AIDS is the fourth ‘P’. And in Sudan, a fifth ‘P’ has been added – that of policy support, to ensure that HIV/AIDS is recognized as a multi-sectoral issue with appropriate policies and guidelines developed – and then implemented.

Schools and mosques involved in launch

In Kassala a similar scenario was played out, with non-governmental agencies, UN agencies and government joining hands in a 3-day programme, starting on 30 November and continuing to 2 December. Today’s activities included orientation on HIV/AIDS in all secondary schools. A march across Kassala town included school children, university students, military personnel, and police in addition to the organizing agencies and groups. The march stopped at a residence of several HIV-positive individuals to express solidarity and advocate an end to discrimination and stigmatization of people with HIV. Drama presentations were made in several shantytown areas around Kassala, and the Friday evening prayers in all mosques will be devoted to orientation on HIV/AIDS.



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