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International News

Zimbabwe: 240,000 Children Living With HIV, Says Minister of Health

June 16, 2003

At least 240,000 Zimbabwean children are living with HIV, while 780,000 have lost at least one parent due to AIDS-related illnesses. The nation's Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. David Parirenyatwa, said June 9 at a four-day workshop on orphans and vulnerable children in Harare that 1.1 million children below age 15 will be orphaned by 2005 because of the increase in AIDS-related deaths.

"It is sad to note that an average 2,000 people died of HIV/AIDS every week and most of them are in the economically active and reproductive age group," said the minister. He also noted the increase in the number of child-headed families due to parents' deaths.

The workshop, held under the theme "Children at the Center," aimed at implementing a National Plan of Action through an approach involving various sectors. The approach would ensure that the government provides essential services and reduces the stigma and discrimination of orphans and vulnerable children. It would also ensure that children are entitled to basic human rights such as the immediate acquisition of a birth certificate.

The workshop was attended by children, officials of the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare, and organizations such as the National AIDS Council, Futures Group, USAid, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and UNICEF.

Zimbabwe's government has put into place policies aimed at protecting the welfare of children. Among these policies is the Basic Education Assistance Module, a program aimed at providing orphans with school fees, examination fees and levy. "We should pool our resources together in a tripartite framework that involves the public and private sector and the civil society in order to help these orphans and vulnerable children," Parirenyatwa said.

Back to other CDC news for June 16, 2003

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Adapted from:
06.11.03; Herald (Harare)

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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