International forum calls for improved social services to tackle child poverty in developing countries

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The 4th Global Forum on Children Affected by HIV and AIDS, taking place in Dublin, has called for a package of social welfare services to tackle child poverty and assist households in developing countries affected by HIV and AIDS.

The forum, attended by 200 delegates from 42 countries, is co-hosted by Irish Aid, the Government’s overseas aid programme, and UNICEF.

The Forum will attempt to secure commitments for children affected by HIV and AIDS to realise their right to health, education and welfare. The provision of social services is key to ensuring that children living in households affected by HIV and AIDS are not forced to drop out of school to care for sick relatives or to engage in paid work when a breadwinner falls ill.

Cash transfers and other social welfare instruments may alleviate poverty, improve school attendance and nutritional intake, the Forum heard.  Delivering the key note speech, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Brian Cowen TD, re-affirmed the Government’s commitment to the world’s poorest children and said: “All the evidence points to broad social protection and welfare approaches as a means of mitigating the impact of HIV on children. Our own history of social policy and protection, with the introduction of pensions and allowances, demonstrates the importance of these instruments in responding to household and child poverty.”

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Ann M. Veneman joined the Taoiseach at the Forum.  Speaking about UNICEF’s work with children affected by HIV and AIDS, Veneman said: "For too long children have been the missing face of the aids pandemic. This conference, generously co-hosted by the Irish government, provides an important opportunity to discuss approaches for dealing with children impacted by HIV and AIDS.”

Singer and HIV/AIDS Campaigner Annie Lennox will also address the Forum. 

Additional Notes:
This is the fourth meeting of the Global Partners’ Forum, established to provide momentum in fulfilling global commitments for children affected by HIV and AIDS as enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals and the 2001 United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS. The forum brings together leaders in Government, civil society and the United Nations to review progress, set priorities, and make commitments for children affected by HIV and AIDS. 

Ireland has made a high-level political commitment to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. With over €100 million being spent annually on HIV and other communicable diseases, the Government is investing in programmes that are benefiting those most in need, with a particular emphasis on supporting children. Resources are channelled through a range of organisations working at global, regional, country and community levels.

UNICEF works on the ground in more than 150 developing and transitional countries to help children survive and thrive. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF works to advance the Millennium Development Goals by supporting child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS.