ISLAMABAD:A first-of-its kind ‘National Guidelines for the Care and Support of Children Affected by HIV and AIDS in Pakistan’ has been launched in Pakistan. The initiative has been taken by National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in collaboration with United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), National Commission for Child Welfare and Development and Family Health International.
Theme of the launching ceremony was in tandem with that of the World AIDS Day for 2010, which is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. The aim behind the guide lines is to provide an understanding and guiding principles for role and responsibilities of various stakeholders. Speaking at occasion, Dr Sajid Ahmed said, “Thirty per cent of children born HIV-positive die before their first birthday; another 50 per cent die before their second.” Ahmed said that 36 per cent children were on life saving AIDS medication.
“These guidelines are an expression of our commitment and determination to face HIV and AIDS, not only as a medical and health problem, but also to address the disease as a cultural, social and economic issue which affects all sectors of our society and children,” he said.
Director of the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development Hassan Mangi, in the foreword of the document, said, “The guidelines set forth a frame work and identify opportunities for progress that will serve as the foundation for the stakeholders’ response to the epidemic in the years ahead.”
Bettina Schunter, HIV Specialist UNICEF, said, “The rate of HIV infection among the general population in Pakistan is still below one per cent. This figure could increase dramatically if unified actions are not taken and preventive measures put in place to keep the killer disease in check.”
“The numbers of infected persons among the general population is still very low; however the numbers are deceptive and the face of the children is hid den among the adult population,” said Schunter. She added that children like adults were unique, dependent, vulnerable, and needed a structured approach especially with the fragility that HIV brings to families. “They become infected, die and are often not perceived to be transmitters of the virus,” she said.
Input from Agencies