South African AIDS Orphans Left ‘Impoverished’ and ‘Unprotected’
Approximately 420,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS in South Africa, and the number of households headed by under-age children continues to grow "at an alarming rate," according to a recent study by the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Johannesburg Sowetan/allAfrica.com reports. Because of a "lack of resources or fear of stigma" of AIDS, NMCF Project Manager Richard Mkholo said, many relatives "shy away" from the orphans and "don't even bother to visit the distressed children." As a result, many children rely on community and church support, and many leave school due to poverty and lack of supervision. Mkholo said that the orphans "are being left outside the traditional society safety net. The extended family and community members appear largely unwilling to accomodate or feed an extra mouth." Subsequently, "the onus of care falls on those least capable of providing parenting and support, the siblings and the elderly. They face the enormous challenge without income." The NMCF has recommended that extended families "be reorganized and given the capacity to absorb orphans" and has called for a review of social security legislation to make "special provision for the swelling numbers of AIDS orphans" (Bhengu, Sowetan/allAfrica.com, 9/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.