Children are now much higher on the global AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) agenda and there is a major shift in commitment, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Board, to increase support for Preventing Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT).

India has received extended support from the Global Fund for Preventing Parent-To-Child Transmission (PPTCT), according to the Fourth Stocktaking Report, produced by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, in partnership with the UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund, was released on Monday.

The annual report examines data on progress, emerging evidence, case studies of best practices and current knowledge and practice for children relating to PMTCT, paediatric care and treatment, preventing infection among adolescents and young people and protecting and supporting affected children.

Since 2005, many lives have been saved or improved as evidence is used to tailor responses and maximise both, scale up and quality. Interventions such as combination prevention efforts with young people, early infant diagnosis and Antiretroviral drugs (ARV) for PMTCT are now an integral part of the global HIV response.

In terms of results, the report suggests there has been a substantial increase in access to PMTCT in India. In 2008, in low-and middle-income countries, 45 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women received antiretroviral drugs to prevent PMTCT. That represents an increase from 35 per cent in 2007 — and from just 10 per cent in 2004.

“We need to focus on harmonising actions within maternal, newborn and child-health services and making community-based interventions integral to national scale-up plans,” the report says.

In India, as of September 2009, approximately 6,437 centres provided PPTCT services. Under the PPTCT programme, almost 37 lakh pregnant women were counselled and tested. India reported 10,673 women as receiving ARV prophylaxis in 2008 out of an estimated 49,000 positive pregnant women.

To be effective, paediatric HIV care and treatment need to become an integral part of infant and child survival, and health programmes. Lack of follow-up on mothers and children after birth represents both avoidable child death and a massive loss of investment as children identified as in need and who have been referred to services do not access them, the report says.

The National AIDS Control Organisation in India is planning to roll out the early infant diagnosis by 2010 in 700 integrated counselling and testing centres across the country.

The current economic crisis is likely to worsen poverty in households, which in turn, negatively affects children’s well-being, reducing households’ ability to cope with additional stress. Child-sensitive social protection is a key intervention to reaching affected children. It can help poor households cope and reduce the risk of chronic poverty, which drives children into orphanages, can prevent hazardous child labour and other forms of abuse, as well as supporting greater access to health and education.

In India, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is rolling out an Integrated Child Protection Scheme aimed at creating a system to promote the best interests of a child and prevent violations of his/ her rights.

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