UNICEF Canada

UNICEF Canada
Kiwanis Clubs of Eastern Canada and the Carribbean

Kiwanis Clubs of Eastern Canada and the Carribbean

October 10, 2008 10:30 ET

UNICEF Canada and Kiwanis Clubs of Eastern Canada and the Caribbean Unite to Help Fight HIV/AIDS With $1 Million Programme

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 10, 2008) - UNICEF Canada and Kiwanis Clubs of Eastern Canada and the Caribbean today announced the signing of a new agreement between the two organizations to partner in forming a new programme called, The Kiwanis/UNICEF Unite for Children, Unite against Aids Campaign in the Caribbean, to benefit children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. The new programme is being funded by a generous $1 million donation to UNICEF Canada from the Kiwanis Clubs of Eastern Canada and the Caribbean which has set a goal to raise the funds over the next three years.

Estimated national HIV prevalence rates in the Caribbean are at epidemic proportions. Higher HIV prevalence rates are found only in sub-Saharan Africa, making the Caribbean the second-most affected region in the world. The funds donated to UNICEF Canada, as part of this new programme, will go towards reducing rates of HIV infection, especially transmission from mother to child, provide paediatric treatment and protect vulnerable children and young people from the devastating effects of HIV.

"I would like to thank the Kiwanis Clubs of Eastern Canada and the Caribbean for this transformational donation and for their commitment in uniting with UNICEF Canada to help children and young people infected and affected by AIDS," says Nigel Fisher, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. "HIV/AIDS is devastating the lives of young people around the globe. This new funding will help UNICEF continue our already extensive work in the Caribbean focussing on HIV/AIDS prevention and in protecting young people affected by the pandemic."

Some of the existing UNICEF programs that the Kiwanis/UNICEF Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids Campaign in the Caribbean may support include:

Jamaica:

In Jamaica, funds raised will support "The Bashy Bus" initiative, which offers a range of health promotion services including HIV and AIDS education, clinical services, counseling and voluntary testing. "Bashy" is a Jamaican term for party, and this program uses drama and song to talk directly to young people about critical issues. The bus travels across the country , dramatizing the challenges children and young people face in dealing with HIV and AIDS, violence and the enormous pressure to have sex at a young age. The proposed project aims to increase the number of Bashy Buses from 1 to 3 and thus expand the numbers of beneficiaries from 5000 adolescents to 40,000.

Trinidad and Tobago:

The Unite Campaign in Trinidad and Tobago supports a free, nationwide, child-friendly telephone help line where children can seek guidance and/or speak to a caring and skilled counselor in a safe, confidential and anonymous way. Called, ChildLine, the free service helps to support children especially those who have been made vulnerable by AIDS, those who have been orphaned by AIDS, and may help to protect children and youth from contracting HIV. The proposed project aims to increase the ChildLine hours of operation from the current six days a week, 8 hours a day to 24 hour access.

Guyana:

Huge challenges still exist in preventing new HIV/ AIDS transmissions. One of the areas of focus for the UNITE Campaign in Guyana includes preventing transmission from mother to child (PMTCT). PMTCT includes the provision of counseling, testing, providing Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) and support services. The proposed project aims to develop a national training strategy and to increase the number of women receiving care, counseling and PMTCT services.

"Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time," says Sheron Cameron-Dunn, Governor of the Eastern Canada and the Caribbean District of Kiwanis International. "More than 40 per cent of our clubs are represented in the Caribbean. Most of these clubs are actively working with families and children directly affected by HIV/AIDS. UNICEF Canada has the capacity, skills and expertise to help us make a difference in the lives of these children."

Progress is being made in the effort by UNICEF to protect children from the impact of AIDS, but there are still many challenges, especially in the Caribbean. There are currently up to 230,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean. In 2007 alone an estimated 17,000 people became newly infected and 11,000 people died of the disease making it one of the leading causes of death among adults. In the Caribbean, HIV is mainly transmitted through heterosexual contact making prevention activities among adolescents and young people who are contemplating or are newly sexually active, critical to stopping the pandemic. The second most common mode of transmission in the region is through mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, labour or breastfeeding putting large numbers of newborns at risk of contracting the virus.

Canadians can donate or learn more or about the Kiwanis/UNICEF Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids Campaign by visiting www.unicef.ca and www.uniteforchildren.ca. Donations can also be made via mail to the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada, Att: Kiwanis/UNICEF HIV/AIDS Program, P.O. Box 5034, Brantford, Ontario, N3T 6J7 or by calling UNICEF Canada at 1- 877-955-3111.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

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