XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Donor agencies capacitating Jamaica to provide quality care and support to orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV

N. Lewis1,2,3, O. Edwards1,4, The Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network

1The Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network, HIV Prevention/Marketing, Kingston, Jamaica, 2Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS(GYCA), Kingston, Jamaica, 3Advocates for Youth, Washington D.C., United States, 4Vienna Youth Force, Advocacy Sub-committee, Vienna, Austria

Issues: The impact of the AIDS epidemic in Jamaica has been felt the hardest by our children. A 2002 UNICEF commissioned, Rapid Assessment of the Situation of Orphans and Other Children made vulnerable by HIV (OVCs), estimated that 20,000 Jamaican children are both infected and affected. Less than four percent (4%) were receiving support from Government or NGOs to supply basic needs including health care, economic assistance for education and other psychosocial needs. Jamaica´s response however, has been incapacitated by a lack of adequate funding, trained staff complement and technical expertise.
Description: UNICEF was instrumental in helping Jamaica´s Health ministry and relevant NGOs, to develop a repositioning strategy that improved the efficacy with which the country responds to the epidemic and particularly its effects on OVC´s. A National Plan of Action was developed and operationalised via the implementation of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission PLUS protocol (PMTCTPLUS) and activities that improved support services for OVCs. Funding from Global fund in 2004 advanced the eradication of the costs of medication, thereby lessening the economic pressure on individual homes.
Lessons learned: Jamaica´s economy makes it highly dependent on donor agencies to build its capacity to respond to the needs of OVCs. Simultaneously addressing the health, socio-economic and cultural challenges that OVCs face is the most sustainable methodology. Failing to address the needs of children affected by HIV, contributes to rising HIV prevalence, unemployment, illiteracy and crime rates.
Next steps: The UNICEF intervention created the base for ensuring an island wide adoption of the PMTCTPLUS approach and the provision of a comprehensive package of care and treatment interventions to all PLWHA and their families. The Government and relevant NGOs is to secure greater coordination in the provision of social safety nets for families infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

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