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SNAP, UNICEF and UNAIDS Launch Campaign to Galvanize Action for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS

60,000 Sudanese children already orphaned by AIDS

Khartoum, 30 November 2005 – The Sudanese National AIDS Control Programme (SNAP), UNICEF, UNAIDS and other partners will launch tomorrow a campaign focusing on the impact of HIV/AIDS on children, saying that as many as 300,000 young people in Sudan under 25 years are already living with the virus.

UNICEF said that children affected by the disease are the “missing face” of AIDS – missing not only from global and national policy discussions on HIV/AIDS, but also lacking access to even the most basic care and prevention services.  Millions of children are missing parents, siblings, schooling, health care, basic protection and many of the other fundamentals of childhood because of the toll the disease is taking, the two UN institutions said. 

Globally, an estimated 15 million children have lost at least one parent because of AIDS.  Yet less than 10 percent of children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS receive public support or services.  In sub-Saharan Africa, where the impact is greatest, coping systems are stretched to the limit. In Sudan, out of 15 million young people under 25, an estimated 300,000 are already living with the virus. Some 23,000 people have already died of AIDS, leaving an estimated 60,000 AIDS orphans throughout the country.

“HIV/AIDS is not someone else's problem. It is mine and it is yours. Fighting HIV is the responsibility of every single one of us,” said Ali Madhi, well known child advocate, chairperson of the Sudanese Actors’ Union and spokesperson for the campaign in Sudan. “This five-year campaign is an opportunity to make a difference in our children’s lives.”

The campaign aims to achieve measurable progress for children based on internationally agreed goals in four areas:

  • Prevention: Adolescents and young people age 15-24 account for almost half of all new HIV infections, but the vast majority of young people do not have access to the information, skills and services needed to protect themselves from HIV. In Sudan, the campaign aims to equip 15 million young people with the information and skills to reduce risks and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. It also aims to establish access for all young people to HIV/AIDS prevention services.
  • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT): The vast majority of the half-million children under the age of 15 who die from AIDS-related illnesses every year contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission. Yet very few pregnant women have access to treatment to prevent transmission. The campaign aims by 2010 to prevent PMTCT of HIV to 80 percent of women in need. In Sudan, this means ensuring at least 3,000 women receive these services. To that end, a PMTCT response has been introduced in five teaching hospitals throughout the country and it will be expanded in the coming years. The campaign will also improve community and household capacity to reduce PMTCT.
  • Pediatric treatment:  Progress has been made in improving access to anti-retroviral therapy for adults. But less than 5 percent of HIV positive young children in need of pediatric AIDS treatment are receiving it. In Sudan, no treatment programmes for HIV positive children currently exist. The campaign will address this gap, set targets and work to reach them in the coming years.
  • Protection and support of children affected by AIDS: By 2010, it is estimated that there will be 18 million children who have lost at least one parent to AIDS in
    sub-Saharan Africa alone. Well before parents die, children – especially girls – have to take on adult tasks such as caring for the sick, looking after younger siblings, generating income to pay for health costs, or producing food. Often they must drop out of school. The campaign aims by 2010 to increase of 50 percent the proportion of children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS receiving household and community support. 
  •  Policy support: the campaign aims to ensure that by 2010 the legal framework and national policies are protective of orphans and vulnerable children rights, especially for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

“It is not too drastic to say that AIDS can slow all progress in Sudan if it is not dealt with now,” said UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban. “If Sudan is to develop, we must put children first. This campaign will focus attention on how resources are allocated and used.” Chaiban added that the campaign comes during a critical “window of opportunity” and will complement other development initiatives throughout the country.

In a briefing to media professionals last October about the campaign, Minister of Information and Communication Al Zahawi Ibrahim Malik noted that HIV/AIDS has the potential to block all the dividends resulting from the peace agreement between the north and south.

UNAIDS, UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Information and Communications and SNAP agreed that if HIV/AIDS is not recognized and responded to immediately, the prevalence rate will increase and jeopardize progress throughout Sudan.

The campaign was launched globally last 25 October in New York.

For further information, please contact:

Paula Claycomb, UNICEF Commuinication,
Khartoum: +249-912-309410 pclaycomb@unicef.org

El Fadil El Tahir, UNICEF Communication,
Khartoum: +249-912-390627 eeltahir@unicef.org

Musa Bungudu, Country Coordinator, UNAIDS Sudan:
  +249-912-172445 musa.bungudu@undp.org

Attention media:  You are cordially invited to the launch event on 1 December at Friendship Hall from 10:00 – 11:30. 

Attention broadcasters: UNICEF offers news and feature video from countries worldwide at www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

Everything you need to know about the campaign at www.unicef.org/uniteforchildren




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