The Government of Malawi is deeply concerned about the situation of orphans in the country. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is tragically claiming a lot of lives. More people in the productive age group (15 to 49 years) are becoming ill and dying leaving behind the elderly and the young to fend for themselves. Family structures are being disrupted and the continuing high levels of HIV infections mean that the HIV/AIDS pandemic will continue to exert more social and economic pressures on children, families and communities in Malawi. In the past the orphan problem posed no major challenges to society. However, the numbers of orphaned children has of late increased to crisis proportions requiring interventions by various stakeholders to ensure that they are adequately cared for and protected against all forms of abuse and violence. According to the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) AIDS fact sheet, 865,787 HIV cases and 55, 000 AIDS cases were confirmed and reported from 1985 to 1999. Projection on the number of orphans was estimated to go over 800,000 by the year 2000 with AIDS as the major cause of death of their parents. The key areas covered by the National Policy on orphans and other Vulnerable Children include Provision of Assistance, Coordination, Institutional and Legal Framework, Transparency and Accountability, Monitoring and Evaluation. Care for orphans and other vulnerable children remains the responsibility of families and communities. This policy emphasizes community-based approaches because they have proved to be highly sustainable. In this regard institutional care for orphans and other vulnerable children should be the last resort.
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