Elizabeth Buhungiro

Some children acquire HIV/AIDS at birth, while others get infected during the course of their lives. Such children need special care. For this reason, N° 20/32 of 05/12/2013 the Ministerial Order determining programmes and strategies to ensure protection and assistance to children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS was put in place.

Article 3 of the Ministerial Order determines the responsibilities of people providing care for HIV positive children. The responsibilities include giving adequate care to a child below 12 years even if the said child is not accompanied by parents, and ensuring that the child follows his/treatment and has psychosocial assistance.

The care provider also performs efficient monitoring as follow-up and also facilitates access to a support system at the level of the healthcare facility.

When a child suffering from HIV/AIDS is attending school as they should, the school is responsible for setting up a place where the child can safely take antiretroviral drugs in confidentiality. This is according to article 4 of N° 20/32 of 05/12/2013.

The school is also to assign a person to monitor and assist the child so that he/she follows through with medical appointments and so that he/she stays in a good physical, mental and emotional state. The assigned person ought to have training in HIV/AIDS counselling and he/she should stay in touch with a health facility.

Article 5 of the Ministerial Order determining programmes and strategies to ensure protection and assistance to children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS says that parents/guardians of a child suffering from HIV/AIDS have to encourage the child to have a regular diagnosis. They are also responsible for ensuring that the child has financial, medical and all other forms of support. Additionally, they have to engage the child in reproductive health discussions.

If an HIV positive child is in boarding school, a healthcare facility must provide antiretroviral drugs covering a quarter. According to article 6 of N° 20/32 of 05/12/2013, the person in charge of monitoring the child shall supervise such drugs.

A child suffering from HIV/AIDS has a right to give opinion so that any decision on change in follow-up shall be discussed with him/her. Additionally, the child is to be encouraged to join support groups so that he/she is able to express his/her opinions with age mates.

Articles 8, 9 and 10 of the Ministerial Order determining programmes and strategies to ensure protection and assistance to children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS provide for the right to proper diagnostic services, good nutrition and access to information.

For instance, if a child suffering from HIV/AIDS is seriously malnourished, they have a right to food supplements provided by a health centre. The child also has to be informed about changing drugs, family planning, and modes of HIV/AIDS transmission so that he/she can avoid infecting others. He/she also needs to be informed about how to prevent a new infection and what do in case of the desire to reproduce.

Although HIV/AIDS is incurable, with the right care, infected children can live long and healthy lives.

 

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