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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid