India’s NACO To Provide HIV-Positive Children With Access to No-Cost Food Supplements
India's National AIDS Control Organization next month plans to launch a program aimed at serving the nutritional needs of 3,000 children enrolled in its antiretroviral drug program, which started in November 2006, The Hindu reports. According to NACO Director-General Sujata Rao, children in the initiative will receive access to powdered, fortified food supplements at no cost in addition to the medical care they receive from the antiretroviral program. "The supplement is expected to take care of 60% of the child's calorie, protein and micronutrient needs per day," Rao said, adding, "The supplement will be available to children across the country, and we have already conducted a field trial to understand the logistics required to carry on this large exercise." According to Jagdish Chandra -- a nodal officer at the Paediatric Antiretroviral Centre at the Kalawati Saran Children's Hospital in New Delhi -- HIV-positive children are "comparatively more prone to infections, and their nutritional needs thus are greater than children of their age" who are HIV-negative. An HIV-positive child with no symptoms needs 10% additional nutritional input daily, and the requirement increases with the presence of an infection, Chandra said. He said the powder supplement can be mixed with a drink or added to dough for use. "It is made easy to use and tastes good," Chandra said, adding, "Parents can be sure that their children are getting their daily nutritional need, and doctors will have the satisfaction of knowing that the children on the [antiretroviral] program are under a monitored nutritional routine." Tripti Pensi, an HIV/AIDS consultant for UNICEF, said, "The provision for national supplement is required to make effective the medical aid being provided to children." The program is a collaboration among NACO, the Clinton Foundation, the World Food Programme and several other international organizations, The Hindu reports (Shajan Perappadan, The Hindu, 3/14).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.