Uganda Conference Addresses Antiretroviral Treatment Access Among ChildrenWorld Vision Uganda recently hosted a conference to examine issues surrounding antiretroviral drug access among children in the country, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. More than 100 children from various schools throughout the country participated in the conference in an effort to create strategies for improved treatment access among HIV-positive children. According to Dirk Buyse, chief children and HIV/AIDS specialist at UNICEF, of the approximately 150,000 children living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda, less than 10,000 have access to treatment. "All over the world, adults are making strides" in access to antiretroviral treatment, Buyse said, adding, "But what is available to them has not been available to children."
Some children who participated in the conference said that to address the situation, they should be given the opportunity to advise the government. "We need to talk to the government directly," conference participant Joseph Kwesiga said, adding that anitretrovirals "for children should be made available free of charge." Francis Obutu, program coordinator for Health Alert Uganda, said that when HIV-positive children begin to ask their parents about their drug regimens, parents should explain the situation and not attempt to keep their children's HIV-positive status from them. "Tell them why they are taking the drugs," he said.
At the close of the conference, participants said that HIV-positive children should be increasingly involved in finding solutions to the issues that affect them. "Shout, raise your voice that 'we want free HIV medicine and treatment,'" Kyateka Mondo -- assistant commissioner for youth and children in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development -- said (Natukunda, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 4/7). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.