APMacro P5-6: IES Health Care

CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour traveled to Kenya as part of a special documentary, “Where Have All the Parents Gone?” which looks at the millions of AIDS orphans now living on their own.

According to the United Nations, there are 12 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and in four short years that number will skyrocket to 18.4 million. That means AIDS orphans will make up 15 to 20 percent of the population in some African countries. HIV infection is more aggressive in children less than 18 months old than in adults. In the absence of any treatment up to 50 percent of HIV-infected children die by their second birthday. In Africa, less than 5 percent of HIV-positive children who need treatment have access to it. And every day, another 1,800 children are infected with HIV, mostly at birth or from their mother’s milk.

In Europe or America, this is almost unheard of because there is effective treatment to stop pregnant mothers from passing on the virus to their newborns. But in Africa, there is little access to this life-saving prenatal therapy. Furthermore, only 10 percent of pregnant women in Africa have access to basic treatment that could half the rate of transmission of HIV to their newborns.

Traveling around the region, we met young children heading entire households, after losing one or both parents. Because the adults are missing, entire economies are collapsing. There’s no one left to plant crops, tend livestock or look after the young. And AIDS is killing the children as well.

CNN came across the amazing phenomenon of African grandmothers, a whole generation of elderly women now looking after their grandchildren, after the mothers and fathers died of AIDS. Without them, these vulnerable children would be dead, or turn to a young life of crime and prostitution.

However, all is not bleak. In the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro on Masai tribal lands, a team of local doctors and community health workers is bringing 21st century medical care to rural Africa. American philanthropist Anne Lurie, who is also a pediatric nurse, has planned and paid for the AID Village Clinic here, along with its sophisticated medical equipment and highly trained Kenyan doctors. For the Masai villagers, all the treatment is free. What makes this clinic truly remarkable, though, is the outreach. Doctors don’t just sit and wait for patients, they go out and find them, treat them, and make regular follow-up calls.

The outreach project is the brainchild of two British dirt bikers, Barry and Andrea Coleman, who realized that a transport network was the missing link. Without any government help, they’ve sent hundreds of motor bikes to Africa’s wildest places with money they’ve raised at bike rallies in England. They have also trained the local health workers how to drive and maintain them. It seems to be making a difference in Africa’s medical catastrophe. The Colemans have similar and bigger bike outreach projects in Gambia and Zimbabwe, and doctors there tell them that they are having an effect on reducing the disease and illnesses by getting patients much-needed medicine.



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