Lesotho’s Social Welfare Department Trying To Get Orphan Care Declared National Emergency, Official Says
Lesotho's Department of Social Welfare is attempting to convince senior government officials to "realize how big the problem" of caring for orphans has become and declare the situation a "national crisis," department Director Limakatso Chisepo said recently, the Baltimore Sun reports. According to the United Nations, about 100,000 youths in the country -- which has a population of about 1.9 million people -- have lost one or both parents to an AIDS-related illness, and about 20% of them are orphans. According to the Sun, the government does not run any orphan homes, and private centers registered with the government have 414 beds, in part because of a lack of funding and in part because of a "traditional belief" that children should live with family members. Chisepo said the government did not react fast enough to the increasing number of orphans, adding, "[I]t's only now that it's going to get enough attention." She said that the social welfare department and that UNICEF plan to create an orphan database and that the government is discussing giving grants for people providing foster homes. In addition, the European Union next year plans to provide $15 million for clothing, transportation and other needs of orphans in Lesotho. "The orphan dilemma raises questions no one has yet really confronted or adequately dealt with," U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said, adding, "The implications are huge for society, and everybody is scrambling" (Calvert, Baltimore Sun, 10/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.