Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Strengthening Resolve To Help Those Most In Need

Strengthening Resolve To Help Those Most In Need

20 October 2009

by Jimmy Kolker Chief of HIV and AIDS – UNICEF

 

Natasha is a young mother living with HIV in Zambia. Her newborn son Fanwick was born HIV-negative, thanks to medicines Natasha received while pregnant and during birth to stop the transmission of the virus. Unemployed and alone, Natasha lives with her mother, siblings and the orphaned children of her brother, who died of AIDS. For many women like Natasha, the challenge of supporting themselves and their children is daunting. 


While the economic outlook in Zambia has been brightening over the last few years, many Zambians have yet to share in the benefit. Two-thirds of the population lives on less than $1 a day. Zambia has been hard hit by HIV/AIDS; the adult prevalence rate is over 16%. The food crisis across Southern Africa and now the economic crisis, are adding to the financial pressure poor families affected by HIV and AIDS already face.

The World Bank predicts that the economic recession will bring a drop in the remittances that workers send home to their families, along with a decline in economic growth for developing countries.  For those with too little already, whether they live in Africa or in East Asia and the Pacific, that can add up to even less money available for essential health services and education.

They and their families are affected by an epidemic so vast that its scope is difficult to imagine.  Around the world, an estimated 15 million children have lost one or both parents to the HIV/AIDS.  Twelve million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.  As of 2007, nearly 2 million children under 15 were themselves HIV-positive and will at some stage need to access lifesaving medicines and care.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

The epidemic makes poverty worse by adding the cost of medicine and care to household budgets that are already stretched thin.  It forces families to choose between necessities such as food and investment in children, including education.  And if a working parent falls ill, the children may have to leave school and support the family themselves.

Fortunately, we know what it takes to protect and safeguard the rights of children in this period of economic crisis, because of our experience in dealing with the impact of HIV and AIDS. We have seen that when people are already poor, it only takes one major setback to leave them with nothing. 

But an approach to aid known as social protection can give families the traction they need to keep from being pushed over the edge.  It offers countries a range of options to safeguard their most vulnerable and impoverished people against the force of adverse events such as chronic illness – or a global recession. 

Social protection uses a mix of interventions tailored to individual and country circumstances.  Cash payments, food stamps and pensions can help children and families avoid destitution. Community workers can assist in connecting families with life-saving health and social services. And simply by ensuring that every child has a birth certificate, we can increase their chances of attending school. Steps like these are direct, effective, and make a profound difference for children and adults in need.

However, measures to care for children affected by HIV and AIDs are only as strong as the funding they receive from national and donor governments.  That support is crucial at this time of economic crisis.

The downturn affects not just the developing world, but donor countries as well -- and their donations are critical.  In many places, such as the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea, HIV/AIDS programmes rely on significant funding from international donors, including New Zealand.

Through the support of the people of New Zealand, UNICEF has been able to provide assistance for programmes to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.  They operate like the programme that helped Natasha and Fanwick in Zambia.  New Zealand’s funding also goes toward training in midwifery and paediatric postgraduate studies at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

 

UNICEF works closely with the PNG government to roll out programmes that ensure effective care and treatment for both mothers and children.  We also support prevention and community-based efforts to address stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

The current economic climate unquestionably poses challenges, but it also presents opportunities.  Among them is the chance to strengthen our resolve to back those most in need.  To maintain giving, even in difficult times, not only affirms our commitment to the rights of all children, but also acknowledges that our shared humanity makes every child our own.

Jimmy Kolker

Chief of HIV and AIDS - UNICEF
ends

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Perils Of Joining AUKUS Pillar Two


The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...
More


 
 

Government: Backs Police To Crackdown On Gangs
The coalition Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs, says Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell. “Over the last five years gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, a 51 per cent increase... More


Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.