The Coalition on Children Affected by AIDS (of which the HSRC is a member) has congratulated Dr Eric Goosby on his nomination to lead PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and at the same time issued a call to increase the focus on children and families in the global AIDS fight.
The Coalition on Children Affected by AIDS (CCABA), the Firelight Foundation, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, The Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, Global Action for Children, the Health Psychology Unit, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, and the Human Sciences Research Council congratulate Dr Eric Goosby on his nomination to lead PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, as the Ambassador at Large and Global AIDS Coordinator.
We are very pleased that this important post will be headed by such an experienced and principled HIV/AIDS medical expert, activist, and advocate who has put so much time and effort into providing HIV/AIDS care, treatment, and prevention to affected people, including in the hardest-hit parts of Africa.
PEPFAR’s Contributions To Date
As the largest bilateral donor to children affected by HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR has made significant strides to date, including: (a) earmarking 10 percent of HIV/AIDS funding (a total of nearly US$1 billion) for orphans and other vulnerable children, and (b) designating that half of that (nearly US$500 million) be channeled through local civil society organisations working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Since its launch in 2003, PEPFAR has supported care for more than 10 million people worldwide, including more than 4 million orphans and vulnerable children. The results of a Stanford study released last month indicate that funding from PEPFAR has contributed to a reduction in the death toll from HIV/AIDS in targeted African countries by more than 10 percent, but no effects have yet been seen on the number of new infections.
Dr Goosby’s policy, programme, and field expertise will be critical to reducing prevalence and impact of the disease, especially in the hardest-hit regions. A focus on vulnerable children and robust prevention initiatives will be key to advancing the global effort to eradicate HIV/AIDS. As Dr. Goosby himself said in a recent statement, PEPFAR “has already saved millions of lives….But significant challenges relating to the prevention and treatment of HIV remain.”
According to the final report of the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS (JLICA), “Home Truths,” more than 90% of the over two million children living with HIV/AIDS are infected before or during birth, yet only one in three HIV-positive women in low- and middle-income countries receive the treatment they need to help prevent infection of their babies and only a small proportion of HIV-positive children receive antiretroviral treatments. An estimated 15 million children worldwide – 12 million of them in Sub-Saharan Africa – have lost one or both parents to AIDS. However, more than 80 percent of ‘orphaned’ children have a surviving parent who desperately needs assistance with preventing infection, ascertaining HIV status, accessing treatment, and caring for his or her children.
“Once Dr Eric Goosby formally assumes his post as Global AIDS Coordinator, he will be presented with a tremendous opportunity to take the US response to HIV/AIDS to the next level by building on PEPFAR’s progress to date,” said Peter Laugharn, executive director of the Firelight Foundation and chair of CCABA. “If under Dr Goosby’s leadership, PEPFAR can mobilise its considerable resources to reach vulnerable children and families and improve their lives through effective, sustainable, and holistic care and prevention, the vicious cycle of infection, downward-spiraling living standards, and increasing marginalisation could finally be broken both for current and future generations.”
Recommendations to the Global AIDS Coordinator
Under its new leadership, PEPFAR should focus its efforts on the following three critical areas to strengthen the US response to the global AIDS epidemic and deliver better results for children affected by HIV/AIDS:
(1) PROVIDING LEADERSHIP & BUILDING POLITICAL WILL TO SUPPORT CHILDREN & THEIR FAMILIES:
Using a family-centered and community-based approach, work with other key agencies to focus on children- especially young children-as a discrete and underserved group in order to eradicate HIV/AIDS and related vulnerabilities in children worldwide.
(2) ENSURING INCREASED & EFFICIENT FLOW OF RESOURCES TO THE GRASSROOTS:
Prioritize direct funding to local community-based organizations (CBOs), which are the first responders to assist families who bear the burden of care and 90 percent of the cost associated with AIDS-related illnesses. The more funding that reaches the grassroots, the more the well-being of children and families will improve, and the more progress will be made in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
(3) ENCOURAGING A HANDSHAKE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT & COMMUNITY ACTION:
Ensure that vulnerable families and children can access government-provided health, education, and social protection services by supporting alignments between government and civil society organisations.
The Time is Now
There has never been a better time to mobilise an effective response to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalised children. Practitioners and advocates have made great strides in drawing attention to their plight, resulting in the first-ever plenary on children at the 2008 International AIDS Conference and a growing consensus and willingness to focus efforts on children and collaborate across various sectors. At last month’s Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington, DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said “The State Department’s doors are wide open…. The power to connect has never been greater.”
CCABA, the Firelight Foundation, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, The Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, Global Action for Children, the Health Psychology Unit, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, and the Human Sciences Research Council pledge our willingness and stand ready to work with Dr Goosby, PEPFAR, and others to improve the lives and secure the futures of children affected by HIV/AIDS.
About CCABA and its Steering Committee Members
The Coalition on Children Affected by AIDS (CCABA) is a collective of private and public foundations and regranting organisations in the global North and South. Aided by key technical experts, CCABA works to improve the lives of children infected by and affected by HIV/AIDS.
CCABA Steering Committee member organisations include: Bernard van Leer Foundation (Netherlands), Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (US), Comic Relief (UK), Constellation for AIDS Competence (Thailand), The Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development (Mozambique), The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (UK), ELMA Philanthropies (US), Firelight Foundation (US), Global Action for Children (US), Health Psychology Unit, Royal Free and University College Medical School (UK), Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa), International HIV/AIDS Alliance (UK), Jerusalem Children and Community Development Organization (Ethiopia), Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (South Africa), Save the Children (US), The Teresa Group (Canada), UNAIDS (Switzerland), UNICEF (US), and World Vision International (Switzerland).
Founded in 1999, Firelight Foundation’s mission is to support and advocate for the needs and rights of children who are orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Firelight strives to increase the resources available to grassroots organisations that are strengthening the capacity of families and communities to care for children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and poverty.
Projects Coordinator, CCABAT:
T +1 (416) 944-1765â€¨
Director of Communications and Advocacy, Firelight Foundation
Tel: +1 (831) 429-8750
Cel: (917) 428-0472