Smt. Sonia Gandhi, UPA Chairperson, launched a National Paediatric HIV/AIDS initiative here today. Former US President William J. Clinton and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Phillippe Douste-Blazy were present on the occasion.
Speaking at the function, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Minister for Health and Family Welfare said that the wellbeing of the HIV affected child is not merely the provisioning of drugs and treatment. Children living with AIDS need special care and attention, when the environment is stigmatizing. With many losing their parents, the security of their homes is also lost. Therefore, communities need to be involved and prepared to take care of these young ones as their own. He said good nutrition, timely care, access to education and above all love and affection should be ensured. A comprehensive child care programme which will cover the medical and psycho-social needs of the children living with AIDS was being launched, the Minister added.
The National Paediatric Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Treatment and Dosing Guidelines developed by IAP with support from WHO, UNICEF and Clinton Foundation were also released. UNICEF has provided technical support to ensure quality roll out of the programme and will continue to monitor both coverage and quality.
The first phase of this initiative includes training of paediatricians and counselors, establishing laboratory diagnosis, introducing Dried Blood Spot system to transport dried blood samples and procure paediatric Antiretroviral drugs and Cotrimaxazole. The impact of treatment can be seen within six months of initiation. There is a dramatic positive change in the before and after scenario. The child thrives, is cheerful, puts on weight and returns to normal childhood. Clinton Foundation will supplement the treatment with care and support services to children.
The initiative sets up a unique partnership between the technical agencies and the NGO’s and networks of positive people under the stewardship of NACO.