Twelve African countries on Wednesday spelt out plans for ending AIDS in children by 2030 through an array of HIV testing, treatment, and prevention programmes.
The 2030 goal, which was announced by UNAIDS last year, was unanimously backed by representatives from the 12 nations gathered in Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam.
“All of us in our capacities must have a role to play to end AIDS in children,” Tanzanian Vice President Philip Mpango told the conference.
“We must not remain complacent. 2030 is at our doorstep,” he added.
The Dar es Salaam Declaration was announced at the first ministerial meeting of the Global Alliance to end AIDS in Children, which brings together the 12 countries with UNAIDS and other health agencies.
The 12 nations are Angola, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
UNAIDS said in a statement that a child dies from AIDS-related causes every five minutes.
Just half of the children living with HIV worldwide are receiving antiretroviral treatments which can stave off AIDS, compared to three-quarters of adults with HIV, it added.
The new plan includes early testing for children, increasing treatment for pregnant women with HIV, preventing infections among breastfeeding women, and addressing rights and gender barriers that hinder access to services.
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima told the meeting “it feels me with hope that all of us in this room have committed” to the 2030 goal.
“It’s a winnable fight. It’s a fight for our children,” she added.
World Health Organisation chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the ministers “your leadership is crucial”.
“We have all the tools needed to make this a reality, but we need your commitment and action,” he said.