Every minute, somewhere in the world, a child goes blind according to the World Health Organization. Three in five poor children who go blind are likely to die within two years of losing their sight - yet half of cases of childhood blindness are avoidable.

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The Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development has said the Government is working to develop and implement an integrated social protection system that will deliver multi-faceted care and support packages for health care, education, nutrition and legal protection at domestic level.

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Community Development and Social Services Deputy Minister Friday Malwa has said Government recognises the challenges children with disabilities face and that it has since made progress in the development of policies to protect their rights.

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"I WAS raped when I was 18 years old in 1993. Due to the history of rape I did an HIV test in 2004 as I had not encountered any sexual relationship with any man. I did not disclose anything to anyone because back then, it was very hard.

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Taking a walk in my neighbourhood one day, I witnessed a case in which a pregnant girl was dumped at a home where the man responsible for the pregnancy stays.

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Government has established a Child Protection Programme Unit (CPPU) aimed at carrying out operations to rid towns of street kids.

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At an increased risk of HIV and often unable to negotiate safe sex with clients, sex workers have been a major focus in HIV prevention and treatment. However, away from the streets and brothels, their children have been largely ignored.

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The minimum legal age for marriage in Zambia is 18, and parental consent is required if a girl or boy is 16-17. Anyone under 16 is a minor, and defilement of a minor is a serious offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to 25 years.

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Less than one in four Zambian children who should be on life-saving anti-retroviral drugs is receiving them. The country planned to increase the number of children on ARVs from the present 20,000 to 120,000, but inadequate facilities pose a major stumbling block.

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A five-country study by the Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT) in partnership with the Health Economics and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal did just that, and the picture that has emerged is more complex than many prevention programmes targeting youth have allowed for.

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