Qatar forum urges family empowerment to fight Aids

November 11, 2011
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Governments must empower the family to be the first line of defence against the stigma and destructive effects of HIV/Aids, thought leaders from Qatar, United Nations organisations and regional and international NGOs have said.

“Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region need to help families mobilise against Aids through education and rise up against the stigma associated with Aids,” Dr Faleh Mohammad Hussain Ali, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Affairs at Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health, said.

Research has shown that girls and women in developing countries carry three times the burden of HIV as anywhere else because they are forced to drop out of school or leave work and take care of infected family members, he said.

Orphans

The burden becomes heavier when the girls are orphaned and become the responsible for younger siblings, Dr Faleh said at the Qatar Symposium on Family, the Millennium Goals and Aids in the Middle East region, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported.

According to Unicef Regional Director Shahida Azfar, despite the gains made during the past decade, significant numbers of women, young people and children are suffering from HIV/Aids in the Mena region.

In 2009, more than 6,400 children aged 0-14 years old in Mena countries became infected with HIV; the number of children living with HIV (aged 0-14 years old) rose to 21,000; and in the same year, the number of young people (aged 15-24) living with HIV was around 94,000.

Treatment

“Only 14 per cent of people who require treatment for Aids in the Mena region receive it,” Hind Khatib, Regional Director for UNAids, said at the event hosted by Hosted by the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development (DIIFSD).

Khatib lauded the region on progress achieved and challenged them to reach the UNAids vision of “zeros” referring zero discrimination, zero new HIV infections and zero Aids-related deaths are achievable in the Mena region.

Arising from the UN Millennium Summit, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are a series of targets addressing some of the world’s human development challenges, including the combat of HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, achieving set targets by 2015.

Central role

“HIV is not a problem for small and isolated communities…the family must play a central role in dealing with the consequences of this virus which has destroyed economies around the world” Dr Richard G Wilkins, Director of DIIFSD, said.

According to Unicef Regional Director Shahida Azfar, despite the gains made during the past decade, significant numbers of women, young people and children are suffering from HIV/Aids in the Mena region.

In 2009, more than 6,400 children aged 0-14 years old in Mena countries became infected with HIV; the number of children living with HIV (aged 0-14 years old) rose to 21,000; and in the same year, young people (aged 15-24) living with HIV were around 94,000.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-forum-urges-family-empowerment-to-fight-aids-1.922634

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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