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Soc Sci Med. 1990;31(6):681-90.

Orphans as a window on the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa: initial results and implications of a study in Uganda.

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Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.


Provisional estimates from a Save the Children Fund enumeration study in four Ugandan districts indicate that the total number of orphans (one or both parents missing) ranges between 620,000 and 1,200,000. Needs assessments with guardians and local administrators show that although extended family networks are absorbing these children according to traditional rules, they may be vulnerable to increased mortality due to economic and health stresses on their caretakers, many of whom are elderly persons. The orphan burden will increase in Uganda and other Sub-Saharan African countries over the next few years. Allocation of additional national and international resources must be considered to avert breakdowns in community and familial support systems and consequent increases in under 5 mortality. The orphan burden is a window on the potential for massive social breakdown and dislocation in Sub-Saharan Africa resulting from high AIDS-related mortality. Methodologies for data collection and planning that use indigenous political systems must be built quickly to avert disaster.

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