The right to health for children receiving antiretroviral drugs in Uganda
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This study is about the Challenges of Implementing the Right to health for the children receiving ARVs conducted at of the Joint Clinical Research Center. HIV/AIDS is a worldwide health problem affecting the young and the old with no cure or vaccine. At present there are antiretroviral drugs, which are so far the most effective form of treatment available for adults and children. Children are a vulnerable group; incapable of making their own decisions about social and health issues affecting them. Many programs for HIV prevention have left the children behind. The ARVs are taken on a long-term basis and are hoped to improve the quality of life and promote the right to health. When it comes to the provision of these drugs, there are difficulties involved in handling children compared to adults, yet the human rights documents that deal with the children specify the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The purpose of the study was to explore the challenges involved in implementing the right to health of such a vulnerable group with the hope of bringing out recommendations that would be adopted to improve the conditions. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. Questionnaires for children, caretakers, and service providers were adopted. These Questionnaires were administered to children between 7and 17years, their primary caretakers and the main service providers. The quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS and also qualitatively through coding relating and identifying patterns. The study found out that provision of ARVs promotes the right to health of the children. However, this is not true in all cases. There are many issues to be addressed if the provision of ARVs is to promote the right to health of these children. The challenges lead to poor adherence to drugs. These include; lack of sufficient food, the burden of taking drugs daily with common side effects, lack of information about drugs, frequent visits to clinics by children and caretakers, missing school and work, missing games and friends. The caretakers also face challenges of having to buy ARVs for children (the TREAT program provides free ARVs only to orphans and the very needy). bringing children to the clinic, missing work, staying long waiting at the center and spending money on transport, buying food and other drugs, as well as paying school fees. Most of the caretakers are of low income and yet have a number of dependents. The service providers have a number of challenges which include; the inconsistent caretakers who do not bring the children to the clinic as required, and lack of disclosure of children's sero status which lead to poor adherence to drugs, lack of training mainly in specific child and caretaker counseling and Children's rights as well as the inadequate follow up system. If the right to health of these vulnerable children is to be realized, there should be a system to provide not only drugs but also other services, like food, other economic and social services to children and their caretakers. This will improve adherence to drugs as well as clinic visits. There is a need for massive sensitization .to the public about ARVs, the needs and the rights of children. Also important is the need to equip service providers as well as teachers with the necessary skills to handle such vulnerable children. There should also be consideration to redesign the JCRC to suit the needs of the children and improve follow up of these vulnerable children. Enacting more HIV/AIDS laws and better enforcement of the existing laws and policies is very crucial in the protection and promotion of the children's health rights.