3. Develop a national policy framework
The social, legal, ethical and human rights framework of the national response as well as its administrative and coordination arrangements need to be in place as early as possible. The national policy framework will guide and support appropriate responses to the needs of children in affected families from the local to the national levels. Policy areas could include: measures to protect the rights and prevent discrimination against affected children and their families; the availability of affordable voluntary counselling and testing; a national drug policy that ensures the accessibility and affordability of the basic medicines needed to treat opportunistic infections; non-discriminatory personnel policies which enable infected persons to continue to work; the rights of affected families to medical benefits and insurance.
The Government of Malawi has developed a policy framework to guide responses to the needs of affected children.9 These establish priorities for action and define which types of services are appropriate and which are not. Existing policies and legislation should be reviewed to determine their direct or indirect impact on the well-being of affected children and on the capacities of families and communities to care for them. Some governments have waived school fees for children whose parents have died. In some cases, governments have defined clear policies regarding the kinds of services that can be provided to limit the diversion of resources into well-intended but inappropriate interventions.
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