By Rupa Joshi
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 13 May 2009 – Eight private organizations joined the growing partnership, ‘Universal Access for Children Affected by AIDS in Nepal’ (UCAAN), at a recent ceremony in Kathmandu.
UCAAN was initiated in late 2007 with four partners – UNICEF, Family Health International/Nepal, the US Agency for International Development and the National Association of People Living with HIV in Nepal – to help the government achieve universal access to treatment, care and support for children affected by AIDS.
The partnership has since grown eight-fold to comprise 33 member groups, including governmental and non-governmental organizations at the local and national levels, as well as international agencies.
‘Just the beginning’
“We are donating one rupee [1.25 cents] for every female condom sold,” said Himal Nath Adhikary from Praxis Group, as he handed over the company’s first cheque to UCAAN. “But this is just the beginning.”
Also on hand to lend their support were Dhirendra Giri from Lomus Pharmaceuticals and Lok Bikram Thapa from the Social Service Committee of the Federation of Nepali Chambers of Commerce and Industry, among others.
Aside from these partners, ANS Creations has promised to help with UCAAN's publicity and publications, and Himalayan Distillery has pledged to partner with Jai Nepal Cinema to hold charity premieres on behalf of UCAAN. Some half a dozen other private businesses are also deliberating on how they can support the partnership.
A voice for the voiceless
The exponential growth of UCAAN has pleasantly surprised its initial core partners.
“UCAAN started with the objective of leveraging scattered resources, passion and effort, and providing one strong voice to protect the most voiceless – children impacted by AIDS,” said UNICEF Nepal Chief of HIV and AIDS Sara Beyslow Nyanti. “Now that our little UCAAN 'baby' has grown, we are confident that this will help to scale up our advocacy efforts to influence government policies.”
Added Jacqueline McPherson from Family Health International/Nepal: “Often, partnerships that start small lose vision and enthusiasm with time. But this partnership has grown in number and strength, beyond the wildest dreams.”
Saving children’s lives
Rajiv Kaphle from the National Association of People Living with HIV in Nepal expressed hope that, in a time of transition from conflict to peace, the partnership would be able to advocate for the importance of saving the lives of children affected by AIDS – the most vulnerable population in the country.
“I was a drug addict for 15 years, and have now been working in the field of HIV and AIDS for over a dozen years, but working with these children is a totally different experience,” said Mr. Kaphle. “It is very moving, because these little ones had absolutely nothing to do with HIV and had no say or choice in becoming HIV-positive.”