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30.08.2005 General News

National Conference on orphans opens in Accra

GNA

Accra, Aug. 30, GNA - A four-day national conference on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) will open in Accra on Wednesday, August 31 to address issues affecting them.

The conference, under the theme: "Enhancing the Protective Environment for Children: OVC our Collective Responsibility" will bring together stakeholders throughout the country to discuss issues of HIV/AIDS and other forms of social vices children were exposed to making them vulnerable.

It is estimated that 106 million children under 15 years are projected to lose one or both parents to HIV/AIDS by the year 2010 and the number of HIV/AIDS orphaned children is expected to double to 25 million if the spread is not halted.

About 15 million children under the age of 18 worldwide had been orphaned by the pandemic by the end of 2003 and eight out of these children live in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

The conference is organised by the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC); Ministry of Manpower Youth and Employment (MMYE); Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) with support from UNICEF, UNAIDS and WHO. According to Mrs Susan Sabaah, Coordinator of the NGO Coalition of Children's Rights, becoming an orphan was one such situation that predisposed children especially those in their early years to socio-economic problems.

She said Children, who lived on the street, child labourers, sexually exploited children and neglected ones were termed to be vulnerable because they lacked support, parental care, warmth and affection which were necessary for their growth and development. As part of the conference, The First Lady Mrs Theresa Kufuor will launch the yellow ribbon signifying hope and the National Policy Guidelines on OVC developed by the GAC in partnership with MOWAC and MMYE.

The guidelines present challenges and opportunities to stakeholders to actively support and promote the objectives spelt out in the policy and to ensure the development and well being of orphans and other vulnerable children. 30 Aug 05

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