вЂњThe plight of children affected by HIV and AIDS is a crisis that has reached catastrophic proportions that, tragically, is likely to worsen before the situation improvesвЂќ
Dr Z S T Skweyiya, Minister of Social Development
Conference: A Call for Coordinated Action, June 2002
HIV and AIDS remain undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges of the world today, as there is no part of the world that has not felt the devastating impact of the pandemic. In Southern Africa, AIDS is the most critical factor that undermines development
initiatives. The pandemic is exacerbating the existing problems of poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment and political instability. According to the latest UNAIDS Epidemic Update (December, 2005), Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10 % of the worldвЂ™s population, but is home to more than 60 % of all people living with HIV-25.8 million. In 2005, an estimated 3.2 million people in the region became newly infected, while 2.4 million adults and children died of AIDS related diseases.
In South Africa, the epidemic has evolved at an astonishing pace and taking a devastating toll on human lives. A report of the study conducted by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA, 2005) on death registration data has shown that deaths among people
15 years of age and older has increased by 62% from 1997-2003 with AIDS related conditions. In South Africa alone, it is estimated that 5. 3 million people are living with HIV and the majority is women. Tragically than elsewhere, the epidemic has caused
untold miseries in Sub-Saharan Africa region as it has left millions of children with no parents or primary caregivers to care and support them. The high prevalence rate of HIV and the increasing infection rates among the adult population in the region
underscore the severity and magnitude of the impending crisis. The devastating impact of the pandemic has undermined and continue to undermine the developmental gains of the past decade and initiatives of bodies such as Southern African Development
Community (SADC), New Partnership for AfricaвЂ™s Development (NEPAD) and African Unity (AU).
Among the most devastating effects of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa is that it is orphaning generations of children-jeopardising their rights and well being, as well as compromising the overall development of prospects of their countries
(UNICEF, 2003). To address the needs of OVC, the Department of Social Development in collaboration with UNICEF, Save the Children Alliance (Save the Children Fund-UK and Save the Children-Sweden), the Department of Health, Department of Education and other members of the National Action Committee for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (NACCA), held a three-day national conference
entitled: A Call for Coordinated Action for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS, from 02-05 June 2002.
The following were the conference recommendations
Various representatives from the SADC region attended the conference and shared experiences on how their respective governments were addressing the social impact of HIV & AIDS on children. Since 2002, there has been a number of responses from
government, faith-based organisations, community-based organisations, business sector and civil society organisations have been working together to address the needs of vulnerable children in the context of HIV and AIDS.
A coordinating structure with three levels was proposed:
At a national level, the National Action Committee for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (NACCA) was mandated to coordinate. To be effective, NACCA needs strengthening and suggestions were made for this
At a provincial level, the creation of Provincial Action Committee for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (PACCA) was proposed. NACCA and the Department of Social Development were charged with the responsibility to examine existing coordinating structures to facilitate this process
At a district, the creation of the District Action Committee for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (DACCA) that will work closely with Area Forums/Committees/ Community Fora were proposed as coordination structures depending on the local dynamics. The importance of local government at this level was emphasized. The coordination structure was charged to ensure implementation of the OTHER conference recommendations.
Engage in a national process for identifying orphans, vulnerable children and duty bearers, and creating a database.
Fast-track the process for accessing social security Grants
A process of civil society involvement was suggested with emphasis on identifying children and linking them to available services.
Engage in a national process for creating awareness about services available to orphans and vulnerable children.
Fast-track the establishment of Home / Community Based Care and Support Programmes.
Identify and build the capacity of NGOs, FBOs and CBOs that offer services to children and streamline the processes of funding to these.
There were also new developments and initiatives at both country, regional and international levels geared toward addressing the socio-economic impact of HIV and AIDS on families and communities such as the SADC Declaration on HIV and AIDS, UNGASS Declaration of Commitment and Millennium Development Goals.