Africa Needs $1B Annually To Care for AIDS Orphans, Officials Say
Africa needs at least $1 billion annually to care for children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, U.N. and African Union officials said on Thursday, the AP/Mail & Guardian reports. More than one in 10 children on the continent already are orphaned, officials said at a press conference at A.U. headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to mark the Day of the African Child (Mitchell, AP/Mail & Guardian, 6/16). By 2010, there will be more than 50 million orphans in just 16 African countries and half of them will have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, according to UNICEF HIV/AIDS Adviser Douglas Webb (BBC News, 6/16). "The impact on society is obviously enormous. It can destabilize society because these children are vulnerable, and they can be exploited, and they can be abused," A.U. Commissioner for Social Affairs Bience Gawanas said, adding that orphans often become child soldiers or commercial sex workers. The $1 billion per year could be used to pay school fees and health care costs in 16 countries most affected by the epidemic. UNICEF estimates that $300 is needed annually for each child to pay for schooling, clothes, food and health care. Gawanas and Webb said that leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations should address the issue at next month's summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. Gawanas added that African governments are not making children a priority in their policies. "Often for governments, children are an afterthought," she said (AP/Mail & Guardian, 6/16).
Increased investments in health care and education programs targeting children in Africa are "urgently needed" because African children "should be part of everyone's mission and not just today," Carolyn Bartholomew, executive director of the Basic Education Coalition, and David Oot, chair of the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival and director of health for Save the Children, write in a Washington Times opinion piece. More than 12,000 African children die daily, mainly from preventable causes, and 40 million children are "denied the education needed to thrive in the global community," the authors write, concluding, "This is a moral imperative like no other" (Bartholomew/Oot, Washington Times, 6/16).