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Reducing new infections in children and adolescents key in ending AIDS

Story by Memory Chamisa

ENHANCING the sustainability of care and support for orphans and vulnerable children has been cited as key to ensuring their safety from the high risk of HIV infections.

It emerged at the launch of the Mavambo Vana Activity, a five-year project which supports prevention, care and support services for orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe, that ending new HIV infections in children and adolescents will be the master stroke in eradicating AIDS.

Launched in Harare this Tuesday, Mavambo Vana, a brainchild of Mavambo Orphan Care, is a project being funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Zimbabwe.

The project comes as the organisation has recently closed the Mavambo Children Vana programme which saw hundreds of beneficiaries being assisted in school fees payment, skills training, HIV and AIDS counselling and treatment.

USAID Deputy Director Michelle Kouletio revealed that the initiative, funded to the tune of US$18.8 million, will assist more than half a million orphans and vulnerable children across Zimbabwe over the next five years.

‘‘At USAID, we believe that every person, every community wants to determine its own future. Mavambo Children Vana has advanced and transformed the lives of orphans and vulnerable children giving them the tools and support they need to unlock their potential and live healthy, productive lives. The children and adolescents who have participates in this program are truly remarkable. That has overcome inconceivable challenges in their young lives, losing parents, moving from relative to relative, escaping violence and abuse, struggling in school. With PEPFAR’s support, Mavambo Children Vana brought these children health care, education and social protection services that have saved lives,’’ she said.

Guest speaker, Harare Metropolitan Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti commended such partnerships as key in improving the lives of orphans and vulnerable children.

‘‘More needs to be done to ensure responsibility and abstinence in adolescents and children to prevent infections of HIV and AIDS. Gross negligence and mismanagement of donor funds by some organisations made us relook at their operations hence us coming up with the PVO bill to put order to errand NGOs who leave their mandate. I would like to commend Mavambo as it has managed to account for every cent extended to its organisation hence the renewal of funding by USAID. I have witnessed the tremendous work that Mavambo has been doing in Harare and neighbouring communities.’’

The new project will run for the next five years and will be implemented in Harare, Goromonzi, Seke, Chitungwiza and Mazowe.

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