Brighter Future: Launch of the National Plan of Action for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS in Viet Nam 0

Hai Duong, 22 September 2009 - An historic event for Viet Nam’s children and the country’s future takes place today in Hai Duong. The Vietnamese Government, led by Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and Ministry of Health (MOH), in partnership with the United Nations and various international NGOs and civil society organizations, commits its support to Viet Nam’s children and families affected by HIV, through the launch of Prime Minister’s Decision No. 84 about the implementation of ‘The National Plan of Action (NPA) for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS until 2010 with a vision to 2020’.

The goal of the NPA is to ensure that the needs of most children affected by HIV are met by 2020. The plan provides a roadmap for the relevant governmental bodies, donors, NGOs and the community in how to provide and improve care for children and families affected by HIV.

“HIV and AIDS exert adverse impact o­n children. The epidemic limits or even deprives children of their enjoyment of basic rights to which they are entitled as regulated by law. I therefore call upon international organizations, religious organizations and civil society organizations to support and work closely with the government to achieve the objectives of the National Plan of Action for children affected by HIV,”  states Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

According to government estimates, 143,000 children have lost o­ne or both parents to AIDS. HIV and AIDS are often viewed as an adult problem, and children and their needs are often overlooked. When parents become sick or die, the children are the first to suffer. Family members lose their jobs; Schools shut their doors; Children, ostracized by their community, live in shame. Some children are simply abandoned, shunted into institutions or forced to live o­n the streets--making them that much closer to contracting the virus.

Viet Nam’s rapid response to the epidemic has made it a model for other countries. Tens of thousands of people are now o­n antiretroviral therapy, counseling and testing are freely available and the laws o­n HIV and AIDS guarantee basic rights to people living with the virus.

The NPA formalizes the government’s commitment to protecting children’s rights as well. It represents the first comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of children affected by HIV nationally, with the strong commitment and collaboration between MOLISA, MOH, and MOET, the civil society and the international community, all under the leadership of the Prime Minister.

The launch brings together government officials from 21 provinces, including various international ambassadors and organizations. MOLISA, MOH and MOET share their NPA Implementation Plans. Over the course of the two days participants will discuss ways in which to ensure success of the Ministries Implementation Plans- touching o­n issues of case management, coordination, and civil society participation. Through these discussions the conference hopes to ensure that the rights of Viet Nam’s current and future generation of children is met.

“The significance of our gathering here today and the significance of the NPA is that o­nce funded and under implementation the Plan may well represent a real and realistic hope that the children o­n our collective minds and all other children in Viet Nam infected and affected by HIV and AIDS will have a significantly better future than has been the case up to now.” says Jesper Morch, speaking o­n behalf of the Partnership Group.