Malawi Needs To Develop Plan Addressing Country’s AIDS Orphans, U.N. Special Envoy Lewis Says
The number of AIDS orphans in Malawi is a "potential looming catastrophe," and the country needs to develop a comprehensive action plan to address the situation, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said recently, the Chronicle/AllAfrica.com reports (Gondwe, Chronicle/AllAfrica.com, 11/6). According to officials, there are about 83,000 children living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi, and 900,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses. Six percent of the 50,000 HIV-positive people living in Malawi who receive antiretroviral drugs are children (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/6). Malawi recorded 100,000 new HIV cases in 2005, and 26,000 infants were born HIV-positive during the same time period, according to Mary Shawa, Malawi's principal secretary for HIV/AIDS and nutrition. "Because of our situation, most of the orphans do not go to school," Shawa said, adding, "We are bringing up the next generation that is HIV-positive, highly malnourished and will be illiterate. ... [W]e are sitting on a time bomb. Soon it will erupt." To alleviate the problem, Malawi needs to implement a social welfare system that would provide money to "child-headed families, other vulnerable families and to the community," Lewis said, adding that the country needs more health facilities that offer prenatal clinical services for HIV-positive pregnant women. Malawi also needs to provide increased access to mother-to-child HIV prevention methods, Lewis said (Chronicle/AllAfrica.com, 11/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.