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Children living with HIV/AIDS suffer Covid-19 pandemic

Children can be ‘hidden victims’ of Coronavirus (COVID-19) if governments fail to strategize ways to lessen the effects of the pandemic on them, a regional non-governmental organization cautioned.

In a statement on the possible negative effects of the pandemic on minors, Southern Africa HIV & AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) called on governments to establish proactive steps towards improving children’s welfare as an investment in developing human capital.

Neglected and reeling under utmost poverty are thousands of children diagnosed with HIV/AIDS). The coldness of this world overshadows their well-being and all hope seems to be lost. I stand as a mother and an advocate of children’s rights in our African community and I must say it’s really disappointing noticing that not much has been done to children living with HIV since this global novel struck.

According to UNICEF, out of 6.3 million children in Zimbabwe, 76 600 children are suffering from AIDS and Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency ZIMSTAT noted that, 70% of children who are living as orphaned breadwinners are not spared as long as this virus is concerned. These children regardless of their deteriorating health shoulder responsibility to their siblings as well.

Most children living with AIDS are forgotten from the face of Zimbabwe, abandoned in slums where they are struggling to get enough food, resources or medication to keep them going. Out of curiosity to find out how most people are surviving during this national lockdown, I realized that most orphaned and child-headed families are going through a real struggle I can’t find the right words to explain.

SAfAIDS Executive Director, Rouzeh Eghtessadi, said there was a need for establishing a ‘new norm’ which helps minors cope with the effects of the pandemic as a matter of urgency.

She said the imperative to take responsibility was a shared task that needs mandatory action without which children will be ‘hidden victims’ of the global pandemic.

“As COVID-19 steers us into a new way of living; the social protection, psychosocial learning, development and safety of our children requires establishing a pattern of “new norm” for their rights and well-being.

“Our children must not become statistic as ‘the hidden victims of COVID-19’. This is not optional. This cannot wait for later. This is all our responsibilities, now,” said Eghtessadi.

Now you can see that with the effects of Covid-19, the odd jobs they used to survive on have been affected heavily by the current indefinite lockdown; it’s difficult and almost impossible for them to make ends meet.

Most of them survive at the mercy of the by passers which makes it difficult for them to acquire enough balanced diet and medication that can boost their immune systems.

Complains came forward that the awareness campaigns on people living with HIV and AIDS focus more on the adults, thereby leaving the kids with no shoulder to lean on. We are failing to give hope for a brighter future to these kids; they are beyond any reasonable doubt failing to feel our love and support. Children are most vulnerable to all this, most of them don’t even understand what’s taking place at this moment in time, all they can feel is hunger and coldness if we remain folding our hands.

Let’s put into consideration children living in the slums of Epworth or Domboshava. How about those living in remote areas away from cities, with no access to medication or any food donations? Whilst we are battling the Covid-19 pandemic let’s not forget the children who are in dire need of our help. I have personally put in action Angels for Life Foundation to launch a ‘Feed the Children Campaign’ for the above-mentioned kids. Let communities stand in advocacy of the satisfaction of these children’s basic rights. There is need to increase the aid that is specifically for these children. If possible, I urge all influential business owners to stand together with the state in ensuring the well-being of the children in our nation. Divided we perish but together we shall stand for the betterment of our nation Zimbabwe.

Save the children Africa with Angels for life.

Edith Chibhamu is a business woman & Human Rights activist.

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