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First hospital for HIV-positive children
Tuesday 16 November 2004
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MOZAMBIQUE: First hospital for HIV-positive children

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


An estimated 30,000 Mozambican children are born with the virus

JOHANNESBURG, 25 May (PLUSNEWS) - Mozambique's first hospital for HIV-positive children opened this week in the capital, Maputo, amid estimates that more than 30,000 children are born HIV-positive each year.

"The Paediatric Day Hospital will facilitate much more integrated support to children living with HIV/AIDS than up to now," said UNICEF Representative Marie-Pierre Poirier in a statement.

Estimates indicate there are currently 68,000 children under the age of five living with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. "Over 50 percent of them die within the first year and half of the remainder do not survive the second year," Christiane Rudert, UNICEF's project officer for Nutrition and Child Health, told PlusNews.

"The treatment and the services offered at the Paediatric Day Hospital in Maputo can improve their quality of life and provide much needed support to their parents and other caretakers," Poirier noted.

According to Rudert, the primary mode of transmission of the virus is from mother to child. Although prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is available at several sites nationwide, in this predominantly rural country, most women give birth without the assistance of a health care professional and are therefore not tested, so they do not access PMTCT.

Only 34 percent of women in rural Mozambique deliver their babies with the assistance of a health care professional, compared to 80 percent in urbanised locations.

The new Paediatric Day hospital was established in a rehabilitated wing of Maputo Central hospital, with the support of UNICEF and the government of France. It has a pharmacy that distributes free prophylaxis, consulting rooms for medical doctors and a psychologist.

Children needing in-patient care are referred to Maputo central hospital's paediatric emergency ward, where 4,500 HIV-positive children received consultation last year. Rudert estimates that between 350 and 400 children in the catchment area of the new hospital require antiretroviral drugs now.

UNICEF continues to provide free medication for treating opportunistic infections and assists in the training of paediatricians and other health staff working at the Day hospital and another hospital in Gaza Province.

The UN children's agency will also be assisting the ministry of health in developing a "Manual on Treatment and Care" of HIV-positive children, incorporating the experience gained at the hospital.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the mother of two of the first patients to receive treatment at the new hospital said: "People here don't take care. They see HIV as a disease like malaria, which comes and goes. But malaria can be treated, AIDS cannot. AIDS is killing many, many people."

Free antiretroviral treatment is not yet available in Mozambique - officials have cited the lack of medical personnel and equipment as the reasons for the delay in setting up such a programme.


Recent MOZAMBIQUE Reports
Artists create AIDS awareness,  10/Nov/04
Youth health targeted,  28/Oct/04
Securing an AIDS-free future,  26/Oct/04
Religious leaders tackle AIDS,  11/Oct/04
Sant'Egidio ARV programme records success,  24/Sep/04
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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