Ireland to help Mozambique treat children with Aids

IRELAND will help one of the African countries worst affected by Aids to “scale up” its treatment of children with the disease, Minister of State Conor Lenihan said last night.

Mr Lenihan was speaking from Mozambique, where he led an Irish delegation which met with former US President Bill Clinton yesterday to discuss Aids prevention and treatment strategies for the country.

Mozambique is among the 10 countries most affected by HIV and Aids in the world. Approximately 13.6% of adults are HIV positive, with more than 500 new infections each day.

There are more than 200 Aids-related deaths every day, and it is believed that 930,000 children will be orphaned as a result of the disease by 2010.

In addition, it’s estimated that more than 11% of newborns are infected with HIV as a result of mother-to-child transmission.

Yesterday’s discussions between President Clinton, whose eponymous foundation works to combat HIV/Aids, and Mr Lenihan, who has responsibility for the Government’s development aid programmes, focused on the number of Mozambiquen children not receiving the anti-retroviral drugs that could help extend their lives.

“President Clinton is very anxious that children suffering with Aids through mother-to-child transmission would be treated,” Mr Lenihan said.

The minister agreed that Ireland would set aside €400,000 for the paediatric wing of the main hospital in Beira, Mozambique’s second largest city, to provide for improved treatment for children with HIV/Aids.

The commitment is part of an aid package that will see Ireland providing more than €39 million to Mozambique this year, €12.9m of which is going towards the health sector.

A significant amount of health sector aid is being channelled through the Clinton Foundation, to which Ireland pledged €50m over the five-year period 2003-2007 to help with the implementation of integrated HIV and Aids treatment and prevention programmes.

In addition to the children infected, Mr Lenihan said attempts would be made to improve access to anti-retroviral therapy for those living in rural areas.

The minister was holding further discussions with President Clinton last night.

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