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AFRO-NETS> Public Policies and the Orphans of AIDS in Africa

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> Public Policies and the Orphans of AIDS in Africa
  • From: John Kiwanuka Ssemakula <jssemakula@medilinks.org>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 03:52:14 -0400 (EDT)

Public Policies and the Orphans of AIDS in Africa

An article in the June edition of the British Medical Journal
http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7403/1387 ?Public Policies and
the Orphans of AIDS in Africa? examines the kind of public policies
and interventions that may aid in dealing with the problem of Chil-
dren Affected by AIDS (CABA). The article states ?International help
to care for Africa's orphans is essential not only for their immedi-
ate welfare but also to protect the long term prosperity of these
countries. A researcher in child health and former Ugandan government
peace minister assess how to make the best use of resources?

It almost directly addresses one of the questions raised by this fo-
rum: ?Therapeutic Support: CABA need support in processing the death
of their parents from HIV AIDS and making the transition from ?vic-
tim? to ?survivor?. From where can this support be obtained? What are
the roles and responsibilities of the community in providing this
support? Would national coordination or external support facilitate
(or detract from) local efforts in this area??

And a partly touches on the issue of ?Social and Educational Integra-
tion. What school-based and community-based programs, facilities, and
campaigns are needed to ensure that CABA are not stigmatized and ex-
cluded from the mainstream of social development??

The summary points of the article are:
* Maternal and infant healthcare programmes need scaling up and
households fostering infants should be given annual subsidies of $100
* Annual subsidies of $40 per fostered child are needed to increase
attendance at school
* Subsidies of $100-$500 per adolescent could provide vocational
training and increase productivity
* Subsidies could be largely funded by channelling money from debt
relief programmes and other sources

It concludes that the ?AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa cannot be
tackled without a concerted effort from international and national
agencies. It requires a combination of pragmatic approaches.?

This is entirely in line with what I wrote in a previous post where I
advocated introducing school feeding programmes and the need for bet-
ter coordination between African governments and international or-
ganizations to create such school food programs as one specific in-

While I agree with the overall thrust and conclusion of the article,
I think it ignores one important area; the social environment that
the CABA exist in. The major interventions inevitably are going to
fall on the shoulders of the extended family, a social construct
which is already creaking under the burden of AIDS, and the communi-
ties that contain them. In some cases whole communities have been
wiped out, leaving the CABA with no one to teach them about social
knowledge that is not learned in schools such as teaching the chil-
dren how to be farmers, or local knowledge of traditional remedies.
Some sort of social welfare programmes to help not just the families
but the communities for example providing money for sinking a well,
or a funding programme for procuring seeds by local farmers will help
in finding long term solutions to mitigating the problem of CABA.

John Kiwanuka Ssemakula
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