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AFRICA: IRIN PlusNews Daily Briefs, 24 July

Johannesburg, 24 July 2001 (PlusNews) - CONTENTS: MOZAMBIQUE: Warning on AIDS risk for child labour ZIMBABWE: Funds for UZ to improve the quality of HIV/AIDS care AFRICA: US firm offers cheaper test kits MOZAMBIQUE: Warning on AIDS risk for child labour UNICEF warned on Monday that child labourers in Mozambique were at a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and said it would encourage the government to find ways to stop child labour. UNICEF’s Child Protection Officer, Victoria Perschler-Desai, told IRIN that children under the age of 15 were working as prostitutes, farm labourers and hawkers in cities and towns in the southeast of the country. “We found young children working everywhere in the 7 out of 10 provinces where we conducted our research,” she said. The problem was especially common along the Beira corridor, which links Zimbabwe to the port of Beira and the capital Maputo. Perschler-Desai said that Beira was one of Mozambique’s most affected cities and “the risk there is very high”. Few employment opportunities, poverty and the liberalisation of the economy are some of the reasons for the child labour problem in the country. Perschler-Desai told IRIN that UNICEF would be holding workshops and meetings with the labour ministry on Wednesday and Thursday to outline a draft plan of action to address the problem. A UNICEF report launched in June entitled ‘Listening to the Children: Child Workers in the Shadow of AIDS’, revealed the layers of interlinked child rights violated by both HIV/AIDS and child labour. The rights to health, to education, to freedom from poverty and to freedom from all forms of exploitation and abuse were all compromised. The study was carried out by national research teams that included staff from national and local organisations and, in some cases, former child workers. According to the report, the danger of HIV/AIDS is ever present for vulnerable working children. Young prostitutes in Mozambique have to choose between being paid US $1.50 for sex with a condom, or US $6 for sex without. One child said she did not require her clients to use condoms because she wanted the money, so “I let them do what they want”. ZIMBABWE: Funds for UZ to improve the quality of HIV/AIDS care The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced an agreement with the University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine to improve the quality of health care services for HIV/AIDS. The CDC said in a statement last week that the purpose of the cooperative agreement was to contribute to improving the quality of HIV/AIDS care in Zimbabwe, and prevention services such as mother-to-child-transmission, with a focus on care at the district hospital level and below. The CDC said it would also assist in the training of more clinical epidemiologists in Zimbabwe and would support them to address priority issues in HIV/AIDS clinical care. AFRICA: US firm offers cheaper test kits A US pharmaceutical company, CALCOL Inc, has announced that it would immediately begin to make, sell, and distribute cheap HIV/AIDS Test Kits on a large scale for areas which have been worst hit by HIV/AIDS, reported ‘Marketletter’ on Tuesday. The Quick Aids Test Kits are currently sold in Kenya, Nigeria and some South American companies. The company announced that the initiative to mass market the low cost test kits was prompted by recent efforts by major international organisations and corporations to help raise US $7-10 billion per year for the global health fund sponsored by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The firm has submitted proposals for test production to the United Nations and UNAIDS, the Global Business Council, and Coca Cola Co. which have all pledged large sums to battle the virus globally. CALCOL said it was aiming at a price of US $1.95 per unit to international agencies. Earlier this month, the irregular and limited accessibility of HIV test kits in Zambia forced the Churches Medical Association of Zambia (CMAZ) to recommend that its members institute a prioritisation scheme. The CMAZ advised members that in order to maximise the use of HIV testing, HIV test kits should be distributed preferentially to hospitals and not to health centres when test kits are in short supply. A CMAZ spokesperson told IRIN on Tuesday that the current price of a test kit in Zambia was about US $3 per test and they would welcome any test kits that were cheaper, provided they met with international standards.

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