Maputo, 16 Jul (AIM) – The Italian NGO, the Sant’Egidio
Community, on Saturday inaugurated a centre in Maputo for
children infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as part
of its programme known as DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement
against AIDS and Malnutrition).
The founder of the Community, Andrea Riccardi, who chaired
the ceremony alongside Mozambique’s First Lady, Maria da Luz
Guebuza, said the centre would use advanced technology to monitor
progress of the infection among its victims.
It contains a substantial laboratory, including equipment to
measure the viral load, and the CD4 count (CD4 cells are the part
of the human immune system attacked by the HIV virus – doctors
recommend that when a patient’s CD4 count has fallen to 200 per
microlitre of blood, he should be put on anti-retroviral
"The centre wants to empower activities for the treatment of
children, and wants to guarantee to HIV-positive mothers the
possibility of not transmitting the disease to their children",
said Riccardi. "We want both mother and child to survive and
enjoy a good quality of life".
The centre is expected to open to the public within about
Riccardi also inaugurated a nutritional centre, named
"Rainbow Village", in the city of Matola. It is attended by 709
children, aged from 3 to 13, who are infected with HIV, or whose
parents have died of AIDS.
At this centre the children’s state of health is regularly
checked, and they are taught basic notions of personal hygiene.
"We give food and medical care to the children", said the
centre’s director, Lidia Lisboa, "because sometimes the children
appear here ill, and their parents don’t take them to hospital
saying they have no money. We can’t leave the children like that.
So when the doctors visit the centre, they look at the children
and give them medicine".
According to data from the Sant’Egidio community, 8,000
patients are now receiving anti-retroviral drugs through the
DREAM programme (which is about a third of all those receiving
this therapy in Mozambique), and 2,620 HIV-positive pregnant
women have gone through the programme of preventing mother-to-
child transmission of the virus.
Speaking at the ceremony, Maria de Luz Guebuza said work is
need to expand treatment to cover all HIV-positive children.
She stressed that the introduction of anti-retroviral
therapy was a major step for Mozambicans to recover self-esteem
and hope, faced with the suffering, stigmatisation and premature
death sentence that used to be the fate of those infected with
For Guebuza, prevention could not be regarded as the sole
response when so many children are already living with HIV.
Prevention campaigns had to go hand in hand with treating those
who are already sick.
The latest statistics suggest that at least 1.4 million
Mozambicans are HIV-positive, and in perhaps 300,000 of these the
disease has reached the stage at which anti-retroviral treatment
is needed. Of this group, an estimated 52,000 are children under
the age of 15.
"In our country only a few thousand patients are receiving
specific treatment for HIV/AIDS", said the First Lady. "We must
work so that more babies of infected mothers can be born healthy.
We must work so that they do not become orphans, and so that
those already infected are helped to live well".