PMTCT Hope for Botswana

| December 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

The President, Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, has reiterated the need for Batswana to continue fighting vigorously for the realisation of an HIV-free nation.

In his keynote address during the World AIDS Day commemoration in Masunga on Monday, December 1, Lt Gen. Khama noted that the success of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV was one strategy that would ensure the realisation of the nation’s noble dream.

He said in the quest to ending AIDS, there was need for all to ensure that all children were not only born HIV-free but remained so for the rest of their lives.

President Khama also stated that while AIDS had over the past 30 years had the most devastating effect on Botswana as well as many other countries, the nation had remained resolute in combating the pandemic.

He observed that for many years, Batswana had set a sterling example for HIVAIDS programming and implementation as evidenced by the many interventions in place.

The President further highlighted the notable strides Botswana continued to make in the area of AIDS research saying the country had successfully conducted robust research aimed at enhancing HIVAIDS programming.

“Our research results have also enabled us to participate in evidence-based dialogue to share best practices at national, regional and international levels,” he said.

He noted that the 2013 Stigma Index study had revealed low rates of stigma and discrimination, an indication that as a society Batswana were indeed moving in the right direction and had fully embraced the value systems enshrined in Vision 2016.

On HIV prevalence, President Khama said the three rounds of the Botswana AIDS Impact Studies (BAIS) had shown that the group of people who were aged 10 to 14 years in 2004 had by the time they reached 20 years of age increased their HIV prevalence rate to over twice where it previously stood.

On account of this, he said it was crucial for the nation to recommit itself and do everything within its power to reverse the worrisome trend of new HIV infections among young people.

He also underscored the need to address obstacles to behaviour change and ensure that those living with HIV enjoyed quality care, support and access to social safety nets that they need to survive and thrive.

Furthermore, President Khama noted that with a national prevalence of 18.5 per cent as well as a disease burden whose cost stood at more than P1.6 billion in 201112, the role of development partners as well as donor agencies remained ever so crucial.

Restating Botswana’s commitment to shaping HIVAIDS programming in order to invest in initiatives with the best returns and better health outcomes, he indicated that the feat of defeating the HIVAIDS pandemic would not be achieved without the support of such key stakeholders.

For her part, Minister Dorcas Makgato of the Ministry of Health observed that like the rest of the world, government was concerned about the high prevalence of HIV adding that it was sad that Botswana appeared to be the epi-centre of the scourge in Sub-Saharan Africa.

She noted that Botswana was a victim of her own success, adding that Batswana no longer saw harm in living with HIV as they now pinned their hopes for a healthy future on the availability of anti-retroviral therapy.

Earlier when delivering the United Nations (UN) message, the UN Resident coordinator Mr Anders Pedersen urged world leaders to continue to unite for a common cause, especially because the global community had already started to turn the tide against HIVAIDS.

He hailed Botswana for having done well in responding to the scourge, noting that there was still more that could be done in revitalising the country’s prevention strategy. Mr Pedersen called on all to reinforce their joint efforts to ensure that the country continued to make gains in stopping new infections.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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