November 30, 2006 : Ms. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. William J Clinton launch a National Pediatric Programme on HIV/AIDS.
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November 30, 2006 : Ms. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. William J Clinton launch a National Pediatric Programme on HIV/AIDS.

HIV positive children to get access to treatment

(New Delhi, 30th November 2006): The Government of India, through the National AIDS Control Organization, in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Pediatricians, UNICEF, WHO and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative today launched a National Pediatric Programme on HIV/ AIDS. The first phase of the programme aims to put 10 000 children on ART treatment for life.

This initiative was inaugurated by Smt. Sonia Gandhi at the newly opened Anti Retroviral Therapy Center for children at the Kalavati Saran Children’s Hospital in New Delhi today.

In her address, Smt. Sonia Gandhi said that we had come a long way since the Unite for Children and Unite Against Aids campaign which was inaugurated by President Kalam on 25th October 2005 as today a number of children will have access to life saving ART. Smt. Sonia Gandhi expressed concern about the discrimination faced by HIV+ people, especially women and children in rural areas and urged everyone present in the auditoriam and NGOs and CBOs to fight against it. Smt. Sonia Gandhi congratulated the National AIDS Control Organization, Indian Academy of Pediatricians, UNICEF, WHO and the Clinton Foundation for doing an excellent job on National Pediatric Programme on HIV/AIDS. 

Speaking on the rationale of the programme, Mr. William J. Clinton said that worldwide nearly 11,000 people are infected daily by HIV and children are a significant number. Large numbers of HIV infected children have no access to treatment due to lack of awareness and availability of drugs. The partnership in India is a significant achievement and a positive step to address access to treatment. The main purpose of the programme is to assist the government in treatment of children infected with HIV/ AIDS.

In India it is estimated that 202,000 children are infected by HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS 2004). Using a conservative transmission rate of 30% from an infected mother to child, a new group of children of approximately 56,700 HIV infected are born every year (NACO, 2005).  Global experience shows that 25 – 30% of children, who acquire HIV from their mothers die before their first birthday. Most of them (50 – 60%) will develop symptoms early in life and, in absence of timely diagnosis and anti-retroviral therapy and general HIV care, the progression of HIV infection in children is particularly aggressive.

In order to prolong happy and healthy life for children living with HIV, the Government of India, through the National AIDS Control Organization launched this National Pediatric Programme on HIV/ AIDS. As a result, all children who were exposed to HIV will be tested for infection, a CD 4 cell estimation test will be performed to assess the stage of the decease progression and treatment will be advised if they are found to be requiring the treatment. Since September 2006 children across five states (Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Mahrastra, Karnataka, and Delhi) have been mobilized, screened and if appropriate put on treatment. To date, the number of children who are on ART since the drive initiated is 3600. This access will be broadened to encompass the entire country.

National AIDS Control Programme (NACO) Director General, Ms. K Sujatha Rao, said, “This initiative is significant in addressing the need for treatment in children. Under the NACP III the aim is that there would be a universal access to treatment by the year 2011. The primary target is to place 10,000 children on treatment by March 2007.”

Today, the National Pediatric Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) Treatment and Dosing Guidelines developed by IAP with support from WHO, UNICEF and Clinton Foundation were also released. UNICEF has provided technical support to ensure quality roll out of the programme and will continue to monitor both coverage and quality.

The first phase of this initiative includes training of paediatricians and counselors, establishing laboratory diagnosis, introducing Dried Blood Spot system to transport dried blood samples and procure paediatric Anti retroviral drugs and Cotrimaxazole. The impact of treatment can be seen within six moths of initiation. There is a dramatic positive change in the before and after scenario. The child is thriving, cheerful, puts on weight and returns to normal childhood. As a result, there already has been a good response to the drive and a positive network representative said that “The children are responding well to ART. Earlier they used to have many medical problems like fever, diarrhea etc. Now they are healthy and we are very happy with the fact that now children are getting treatment.”  Clinton Foundation will supplement the treatment with care and support services to children.

The initiative has set up a unique partnership between the technical agencies and the NGO’s and networks of positive people under the stewardship of NACO.

Clinton Programme

Clinton with Sonia Gandhi coming to inaugurate the ART centre . Sonia cutting the ribbon.   (00:00- 01:07)

Cut away shots                  (01:07-01:18)

Lighting the lamp                (01:18-01:43)

Clinton speaking                 (01:44-02:11)

Sonia inaugurating book     (02:11-2:17)

Sonia Speaking                  (02:18-02:49)

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