“Congress makes the following findings:
As of July 2004, there were more than 143,000,000 children living in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean who were identified as orphans, having lost one or both of their parents. Of this number, approximately 16,200,000 children were identified as double orphans, having lost both parents—the vast majority of whom died of AIDS. These children often are disadvantaged in numerous and devastating ways and most households with orphans cannot meet the basic needs of health care, food, clothing, and educational expenses.
It is estimated that 121,000,000 children worldwide do not attend school and that the majority of such children are young girls. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), orphans are less likely to be in school and more likely to be working full time.
School food programs, including take-home rations, in developing countries provide strong incentives for children to remain in school and continue their education. School food programs can reduce short-term hunger, improve cognitive functions, and enhance learning, behavior, and achievement.
Financial barriers, such as school fees and other costs of education, prevent many orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries from attending school. Providing children with free primary school education, while simultaneously ensuring that adequate resources exist for teacher training and infrastructure, would help more orphans and other vulnerable children obtain a quality education.
The trauma that results from the loss of a parent can trigger behavior problems of aggression or emotional withdrawal and negatively affect a child’s performance in school and the child’s social relations. Children living in families affected by HIV/AIDS or who have been orphaned by AIDS often face stigmatization and discrimination. Providing culturally appropriate psychosocial support to such children can assist them in successfully accepting and adjusting to their circumstances.
Orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries routinely are denied their inheritance or encounter difficulties in claiming the land and other property which they have inherited. Even when the inheritance rights of women and children are spelled out in law, such rights are difficult to claim and are seldom enforced. In many countries it is difficult or impossible for a widow, even if she has young children, to claim property after the death of her husband.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had a devastating affect on children and is deepening poverty in entire communities and jeopardizing the health, safety, and survival of all children in affected areas.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has increased the number of orphans worldwide and has exacerbated the poor living conditions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children. AIDS has created an unprecedented orphan crisis, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where children have been hardest hit. An estimated 14,000,000 orphans have lost 1 or both parents to AIDS. By 2010, it is estimated that over 25,000,000 children will have been orphaned by AIDS.
Approximately 2,500,000 children under the age of 15 worldwide have HIV/AIDS. Every day another 2,000 children under the age of 15 are infected with HIV. Without treatment, most children born with HIV can expect to die by age two, but with sustained drug treatment through childhood, the chances of long-term survival and a productive adulthood improve dramatically.
Few international development programs specifically target the treatment of children with HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Reasons for this include the perceived low priority of pediatric treatment, a lack of pediatric health care professionals, lack of expertise and experience in pediatric drug dosing and monitoring, the perceived complexity of pediatric treatment, and mistaken beliefs regarding the risks and benefits of pediatric treatment.
Although a number of organizations seek to meet the needs of orphans or other vulnerable children, extended families and local communities continue to be the primary providers of support for such children.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is placing huge burdens on communities and is leaving many orphans with little support. Alternatives to traditional orphanages, such as community-based resource centers, continue to evolve in response to the massive number of orphans that has resulted from the pandemic.
The AIDS orphans crisis in sub-Saharan Africa has implications for political stability, human welfare, and development that extend far beyond the region, affecting governments and people worldwide, and this crisis requires an accelerated response from the international community.
Although section 403(b) of the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (22 U.S.C. 7673(b)
) establishes the requirement that not less than 10 percent of amounts appropriated for HIV/AIDS assistance for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2008 shall be expended for assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS, there is an urgent need to provide assistance to such children prior to 2006.
Numerous United States and indigenous private voluntary organizations, including faith-based organizations, provide assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries. Many of these organizations have submitted applications for grants to the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to provide increased levels of assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries.
Increasing the amount of assistance that is provided by the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development through United States and indigenous private voluntary organizations, including faith-based organizations, will provide greater protection for orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries.
It is essential that the United States Government adopt a comprehensive approach for the provision of assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries. A comprehensive approach would ensure that important services, such as basic care, psychosocial support, school food programs, increased educational opportunities and employment training and related services, the protection and promotion of inheritance rights for such children, and the treatment of orphans and other vulnerable children with HIV/AIDS, are made more accessible.
“(18) Assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children can best be provided by a comprehensive approach of the United States Government that—
ensures that Federal agencies and the private sector coordinate efforts to prevent and eliminate duplication of efforts and waste in the provision of such assistance; and
to the maximum extent possible, focuses on community-based programs that allow orphans and other vulnerable children to remain connected to the traditions and rituals of their families and communities.”