The U.N. Children's Fund is planning on launching a program to improve the care, health, education and nutrition of vulnerable children in Zimbabwe, where one child dies of AIDS and another is orphaned every 20 minutes.
In a statement Wednesday, UNICEF Britain has acknowledged the scale of the Aids catastrophe threatening Zimbabwe's children and has given UNICEF Ģ22 million to help the children facing some of the worst hardships anywhere in the world, given the extent of the economic crisis.
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in the statement, that HIV and AIDS have dramatically increased children's vulnerability in recent years. Stating that at least one in three children in Zimbabwe, 1.6 million, are orphaned, having lost at least one parent, and this number still growing. According to the UNICEF survey a child is orphaned and one dies of AIDS every 20 minutes; three infants are infected with the AIDS virus every hour, mainly from their mothers; and one in eight children now die before the age of 5, compared to one in 13 children 15 years ago.
The AIDS epidemic has lowered average life expectancy to below 40, from 69 after independence in 1980. With at least 3,000 people die every week in Zimbabwe from AIDS-related causes.
The British donation they claim will also go toward increasing school enrolments for affected children and family and community support programs as part of Zimbabwe's National Plan of Action, this action is also backed by the government. According to UNICEF, despite the country's economic collapse the people of Zimbabwe, they still continue to lead by example in their care for vulnerable children. More than 90 percent of orphans were absorbed into extended families, sometimes even distant relatives. That almost every two out of five households even in the poorest belt take in orphans at the cost of adding to their economic burden. They claim that less than half of these people receive any support in nay form from the government.
UNAIDS reported a decline in Zimbabwe in infection from 26 percent to 21 percent of the population, in November though they did accept that the survey results might not be very accurate as there due to raising inflation, up to 913% last month, crumbling health services and acute shortages of food, gasoline and medicines in Zimbabwe, more AIDS-related illnesses are being nursed at home and many burials in rural areas go unrecorded.
Meanwhile the head of UNICEF called for education programs to protect children from bird flu, warning they were particularly vulnerable to the deadly virus. Ann Veneman, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, said that Children usually fall victim to the disease mainly because they are the ones that often play around the poultry and have contact with them. So, she stressed that it's very important to have an education program for families about how to protect children if they have sick birds around their homes.