Issue #3: March 2016
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Reaching All Children

Issue 3 - Spring 2016

With so many eyes on June’s UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (HLM), the subsequent Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV and AIDS, the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS is deeply attuned to the fact that children continue to be overlooked.

We certainly welcomed the establishment of a Stakeholders Task Force to ensure that the voices of civil society are included in HLM preparations. However, options for nominations of members to this Task Force did not include those representing children. The inclusion of a youth representative, while important, is not sufficient; children and youth are two distinct population groups with distinct concerns and needs.

This omission runs counter to the 2014 UNAIDS Gap Report, which highlights children as one of 12 population groups left behind in the AIDS response. There are also numerous references to the slow progress in addressing the impact of HIV on children in the new UNAIDS Strategy in which children’s access to treatment is deemed "appallingly low."

Children are frequently ignored or given low priority in the HIV and AIDS response because, unlike other populations, they are not able to participate in groups such as the Civil Society Task Force. Therefore, it is critical that their voices be heard through representative organizations or other forms of child participation. We will continue to work with our UNAIDS and UNICEF partners — and with all of you — in the coming months to ensure that the HLM outcomes help prevent deaths and improve the lives of people of all ages living with, and affected by, HIV. For the Coalition, ensuring that children’s voices are represented is not an option; it is a necessity if we are to reach all children.

Lisa Bohmer  and Noreen Huni
Coalition Chair and Vice-Chair

Recent Highlights

HIV-Sensitive Care Force Planning for Children

A strong, supported workforce in health-care facilities is essential to providing effective services to people living with HIV. However, the needs of family, home-based and community carers are often overlooked. The Coalition recently hosted a meeting, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), and the Regional Inter-Agency Task Team on Children and AIDS – East and Southern Africa (RIATT-ESA), to explore ways to address the specialized needs of home carers responsible for children affected by HIV.

Themes highlighted at the meeting include:

  • The importance of utilizing a life course development approach. Child development is cumulative, making it essential for the developmental gains of early interventions to be supported by programming across the lifespan. Support for caregivers is critical in the early years but must also be sustained as children grow. And, as they grow, programming for caregivers must build on a parallel track to meet the developmental needs of older children and adolescents.

  • The need to use a broader definition of “caregiver” to include both the formal (external) and informal (caregivers within the home) workforce. There are many different in-home caregivers, of varying ages, and many household configurations that must be considered.

  • Increasing linkages between the formal and informal workforce creates an opportunity to build family carer capacity (“careforce”)—and helps to decrease costs — through the transfer of knowledge and skills.
  • Broad, progressive social policies, regulations and resources are essential. These include those related to sick and family leave, free early childhood, primary and secondary education, minimum wages, and services for children and adults with disabilities, among others. Specific, vulnerability-sensitive approaches should be considered as well.
  • Practical skills needed by family caregivers can be supported with low cost, low intensity interventions (e.g. the World Health Organization’s Care for Development package) that can be integrated as part of existing health, education and social protection systems.

  • Bringing innovative models to scale is best achieved incrementally, without copyrights and through creative funding models.

  • Children across the planet face myriad risks - parental disease, climate change, conflict, and migration among them. The lessons learned from the HIV/AIDS response can and should be used to address other high risk and emergency situations.

  • While governments undertake large scale interventions intended to meet the shared needs of all children, philanthropy can play a critical role, providing funding to pilot new approaches for targeted interventions — such as early childhood development— to help children reach their full potential.

Additional information is available on the UNAIDS website. Presentations from the meeting can be accessed here.

U.N. Virtual Dialogue on Children

As part of a series of dialogues with civil society on key issues in preparation for the HLM, the Coalition worked with UNAIDS to schedule a webinar focused on children. This discussion was an opportunity for UNAIDS to hear, from a wide variety of individuals and organizations, that HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support for children and adolescents must get the attention they deserve at the June meeting. The Coalition and our partners took this unique opportunity to speak up for children and adolescents, with viewpoints presented by several Coalition members including Lisa Bohmer (Coalition Chair), Noreen Huni (Coalition Vice-Chair), Stuart Kean (World Vision) and John Miller (Coalition Executive Director).

In addition, the Coalition, along with RIATT-ESA, submitted a letter to the President of the U.N. General Assembly requesting that:

  • Children’s issues are not forgotten as the Political Declaration for the HLM is crafted, including by directly seeking the input of children’s organizations on the documents and by ensuring their ability to actively participate in the Civil Society Forum and the High Level Meeting; and

  • In the future, civil society organizations representing children are considered as a category unto themselves.

A Discussion On Managing Ethical Dilemmas

The Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development recently invited members of the Coalition, including Coalition Director John Miller and Kate Iorpenda (AIDS Alliance) to speak about the ethical decision making tool, Difficult Decisions.

The presentation shared on the webinar can be accessed here.

Upcoming Events

Social Protection, Economic Empowerment, and ART Adherence among Adolescents Living with HIV

On May 9, the Coalition, AIDSFree and 4Children will present new evidence examining potential links between social protection, prevention, economic opportunities, and antiretroviral adherence among adolescents living with HIV. Moderated by Coalition member, Professor Lorraine Scherr (University College London), preliminary results emerging from studies in South Africa and Uganda will be shared by Professors Lucie Cluver (Oxford University and University of Cape Town) and Fred M. Ssewamala (Columbia University). Register here to participate.

Children and HIV: Equity Now! - Reaching all children in the epidemic

The Coalition and The Teresa Group are pleased to announce their sixth two-day symposium, an event affiliated with AIDS 2016, taking place 15-16 July 2016 in Durban, South Africa.

HIV and AIDS still negatively affect vast numbers of children, adolescents and families. How, then, do we ensure the inclusion of those most in need — those most often missed, forgotten, or excluded — who aren’t benefitting from traditional policies, funding and programming?

In this Symposium, service providers, donors, researchers, advocates and policy leaders will discuss new evidence, ideas, and approaches through an equity-focused lens.

Register for the Symposium here. Registration is free.

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