Orphans

In Africa, 12.3 million children have been orphaned by AIDS (losing their mother or both parents), 82% of the world total. The number of AIDS orphans is expected to reach 25 million by 2010. (Source: UNAIDS/WHO, 2005) And, unfortunately, the prospects for improvement are dim as many more children will be orphaned by AIDS in the coming years. In sub-Saharan Africa, 25.8 million people are living with HIV/AIDS – 60% of the worldwide total. (Source: UNAIDS/WHO, 2005) “Even if new HIV infections begin to level off, so many people are already living with HIV that the proportion of children likely to be orphaned will remain high until at least 2030 in high-prevalence countries.”  (Source: UNICEF, 2006)  In fact, so many people are becoming infected with HIV before the age of 24 and dying from AIDS before the age of 35 that they are “leaving behind a generation of children to be raised by grandparents or siblings.”  (Source: UNAIDS/WHO, 2001)

In Malawi and throughout Africa, the operational definition for Orphan is: “defined as a child under the age of 18 years who has lost one or both parents through death.” Similarly, a Vulnerable Child is, “one who lacks proper care and support and basic necessities of life such as food, love and shelter and these include children living on the streets, children in families with sick parents and parents with disabilities or guardians, abandoned and neglected children that lack proper care even when parents may be alive as well as children in conflict with the law.” (Source: UNICEF and Republic of Malawi, 2008)

The National Plan of Action on Orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) created by UNICEF and the Republic of Malawi through 2009 estimates that there are more than 1million orphans and other vulnerable children in Malawi and half of these are due to HIV and AIDS. In general, there are more paternal orphans compared to maternal orphans. It has also been observed that there are more orphans in urban areas than there are in rural areas. This is as a result of the high HIV/AIDS prevalence within urban areas as compared to rural areas.

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