Fiona, 7, points to a globe, as a classmate watches, on the first day of school at Rosauro Almario Primary School in Tondo, a neighbourhood of Manila, the capital. UNICEF assists the ‘child-friendly’ school with teacher training, books and other supplies. Child-friendly schools strive to create safe, protective and inclusive spaces for all children, especially girls, and encourage the involvement of parents and the community.
In 2006 in the Philippines, HIV transmission is hidden and growing. While official statistics cite fewer than 10,000 HIV cases nationwide, high-risk behaviours, especially among adolescents, are on the rise. Those at highest risk are children in depressed, urban areas, those who live or work in the streets and those involved in the sex industry. Many have limited access to basic services like education, community support and health care. And a strong culture of stigma, denial and silence has prevented an open discussion of HIV/AIDS, sexuality and adolescent reproductive health. Other factors impeding prevention and care services include limited knowledge and skills among health-care workers; rapid turnover and migration of staff; and disruption of health systems due to emergencies and conflict. On Mindanao Island, a decades-long conflict between Christians and Muslims has killed, injured or displaced thousands of children, and left others vulnerable to abduction, trafficking and abuse. Working with government, NGO and other partners, UNICEF supports peer counselling and prevention awareness training for adolescents; expanded voluntary counselling and testing services; and treatment, care and support services for children infected with HIV/AIDS. UNICEF also supports child protection, peace building and the delivery of social services in conflict areas.