June 17: Day of the African Child
Today is the Day of the African Child, a day in which we focus our attention on the needs of children living across the African continent and celebrate the great progress that has been made in recent years to improve the health and well-being of Africa’s most vulnerable populations. For more than 25 years, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has been committed to advocating for children around the world, especially those living in sub-Saharan Africa.
AIDS has killed millions of African children and orphaned millions more, but because of our work and that of our many private and public partners – including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – that tide is beginning to turn. According to UNAIDS, six countries, including Kenya and Zambia, have seen the number of children newly infected with HIV drop by nearly 60 percent from 2009 to 2011. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the number of children infected with HIV dropped by 24 percent from 2009 to 2011. And the use of preventative antiretroviral treatment (ART) prevented 409,000 children from being infected with HIV. Additionally, 59 percent of pregnant women living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa receive the drugs they need to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies.
EGPAF is a part of each of these important successes. From using radio programs to share information about prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) in Zimbabwe to using ponies to deliver HIV test results and the medications that can save the lives of thousands of women and children in Lesotho, EGPAF is working with governments, local organizations, and community leaders to fight HIV and care for millions of women and children so that more babies are born HIV-free and more children living with HIV grow up healthy and happy.
On this day, we are reminded of the importance of our work on behalf of children across Africa. Join our fight for them, and our battle against HIV for the lives of all children.
Jane Coaston is Media Relations Coordinator for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.