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4.2 million children are AIDS orphans in West, Central Africa

Mots-Clés / Afrique

Dépêche AFP du 19 octobre 2006

DAKAR (AFP) - Some 4.2 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in central and western Africa, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said.

"The negative impact of HIV/AIDS on the lives of children is translated in a striking way by the growing number of children becoming orphans because of this disease," said Esther Guluma, UNICEF director for the west and central African region.

In West and Central Africa, more than 20 million children were orphaned with more than 4.2 million (21 percent) orphaned because of AIDS," she said at the end of a conference aimed at promoting ways to deal with children affected by the virus.

She said that by the end of last year, estimates showed that only 1.3 percent of pregnant women infected by HIV received anti-retroviral drugs to help prevent the mother-to-child transmission of the disease.

Some 220,000 children were infected with HIV last year while 170,000 died of AIDS over the same period.

"Children are the hidden face of pandemic, even in the countries where the prevalence is low," said UNAIDS regional director Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele, adding children do not really have access prevention and care services.

"The financial resources exist but the children have not been a priority until now," said Sosthene Bucyana of USAID   in West Africa.

Various UN and international organisations launched Wednesday the "Dakar Call to Action" plan to "reinforce" their partnership in efforts to meet the needs of children affected HIV/AIDS.

Publié sur OSI Bouaké le jeudi 19 octobre 2006