Annie In Dublin with UNICEF this week



Annie Lennox visits Dublin to help UNICEF Ireland raise funds for safe motherhood programmes in Africa

Singer and campaigner Annie Lennox was the very special guest at the annual UNICEF Ireland/Conrad Dublin Mother’s Day Lunch today, 28th February 2008. Now in its eleventh year, the annual Lunch raises funds for UNICEF’s safe motherhood programmes across the world. In 2008, thanks to the very generous sponsorship by the Conrad Dublin, the Lunch hopes to raise over €50,000 for UNICEF Ireland programmes preventing transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies throughout Africa.

Over 1,000 babies will be born this Mother’s Day with the HIV virus

Almost every minute of every day, a baby is born with HIV, passed on by his or her mother during pregnancy, labour or upon delivery. This Mother’s Day alone (March 2nd), over 1,000 children will be born HIV positive. Last year, almost 400,000 babies came into the world destined to live an appallingly shortened life with the virus.

Only one in ten HIV positive pregnant women in poor countries has access to the treatment needed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). For babies with HIV in the world’s poorer countries – where the vast majority are being born with HIV – it is often synonymous to a death sentence. The cruel reality of the HIV virus is that without treatment, half of all HIV-positive babies will not live long enough to see their second birthday; a third will not make it to their first.

Special Guest on song for UNICEF Ireland

The special guest at this year’s Lunch was Annie Lennox who is a tireless campaigner on the issue of HIV/AIDS and its impact on women and children’s lives. Annie has spent a lot of time in South Africa, where as many as one in three women are HIV positive. Annie spoke to the audience at the Lunch and highlighted the story of one particular little girl called Avellile, who she met during her time there.

Annie recalled their first meeting:

She was a little seven-year-old girl, weighing less than a one-year-old baby. Her chances of survival were not great. She had full-blown AIDS and was struggling with pneumonia and severe weight loss. The doctors and nurses at the hospital managed to put her on a course of treatment, and supported her food intake at the nutrition centre, where she was very well taken care of. After ONLY FIVE MONTHS of treatment, she has made an extraordinary improvement and now looks like a completely different girl! She’s now attending school, and leading a normal life with her family. Every child should have the right to proper medical care and good nutrition," Annie told the captivated audience.

Born Free from HIV – it costs as little as 90 cent

It is possible to prevent babies getting HIV from their mothers. In fact the drug that halves the chance of babies getting HIV from their mums costs just 90 cent. The sad reality is that mothers and babies in richer countries are receiving a greater level of protection and care in the face of the HIV pandemic than mothers and babies in the world’s poorest countries.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director, Melanie Verwoerd said:

"All babies should be given a chance to live life free from HIV. Simple measures, such as those based on anti-retroviral drugs like Nevirapine, have achieved reductions in the mother-to-child transmission of HIV of up to 50 per cent in developing countries. Yet, still only around 10 per cent of women have access to these drugs. With medicine and appropriate health care, more than 98 per cent of pregnant women with HIV do not pass the virus on to their babies. This Mother’s Day, we want to highlight the fact that every child deserves this chance to live."

To Watch Annie on Irish News Programme ,  RTE Ireland
click here and scroll down the menu on the right to "Annie Lennox Launches" , click the title to view the video segment.