News / Africa

AIDS Orphans Strain Healthcare in Northern Nigeria

Five-month-old Jessica was taken in by one of the few houses in Nigeria that will care for HIV positive babies. (I. Yakubu/VOA)
Five-month-old Jessica was taken in by one of the few houses in Nigeria that will care for HIV positive babies. (I. Yakubu/VOA)
Heather Murdock
— In parts of northern Nigeria, health workers say more orphans are spilling into the country's dilapidated care system because of an increase in poverty, violence and HIV/AIDS.  But some caregivers say they are trying to build a so-called "mega-orphanage" to help alleviate the problem.
 
Favor, a baby girl, is HIV-positive.  About four months ago a little girl searching for food or valuables in the trash found her in a garbage can as a newborn. Favor later died.

It is increasingly common for babies to be found abandoned in her city, said Adama Sambo, a leader of Women Living With HIV/AIDS in Kaduna State.
 
“Some of them, they throw it in the dustbin. Children will go to the dustbin and find the baby is crying and definitely they will call [out]: ‘Baby is crying.  Baby is crying,’” she said.
 
HIV positive babies are particularly likely to be cast aside by parents because of the stigma associated with the disease, said Sambo. Some mothers abandon their babies at the hospital when they find he or she is HIV positive.
 
The babies that find their way to the few homes that take in abandoned HIV-positive children are often left untreated because doctors do not have enough anti-retroviral drugs.  Often orphaned HIV patients are given anti-malaria drugs, which do not help, she said.
 
“I am still crying for the world, the whole world, that we should try and get anti-viral drugs for the babies so that we not be losing the babies," Sambo said. "There may be something tomorrow.”
 
Officials say HIV rates in Kaduna State are considerably higher than Nigeria's national average of about four percent, with some areas more than doubling that number. Orphanage workers say taking in an HIV-positive child costs 10 times as much as taking in a healthy child.  
 
Hajia Maryam Ahmed, who heads an orphanage called Mother Care, said it is not just HIV rates that are increasing the number of orphans in Kaduna.  Poverty has increased dramatically in recent years and more young women are hawking goods, like nuts or soup on the streets.  These teenagers are vulnerable to rape, and are more likely to give up their babies than adult mothers.  
 
Sectarian and religious violence has also killed scores of parents in the past year. The stigma attached to orphaned children leaves many outcast, said Ahmed, while others are kidnapped from orphanages by people claiming to be adoptive parents.  Like most orphanages in Kaduna, hers has halted adoptions to protect children from predators posing as parents, leaving more children that need care. But however broken and overridden the orphanage system is now, she said, some children are making it.
 
Like five-year-old Jessica at FaithWorks, a Christian orphanage.

“I like this orphanage because it is a place where God saves people," said Jessica. "I learn in school about how to speak good English and education.”
 
A FaithWorks spokesperson, Andy Njoko, says his organization envisions building a large orphanage to raise children that are educated, healthy and unaffected by stigma.
 
“The orphanage is actually going to be a very big one," Njoko said. "Of course it is going to have a school, it is going to have a lot of facilities that should be able to cater for over 2,000 children.”

They have the land set aside for the new facility, he said, but they are still recruiting donors to pay for construction.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid