The recurrent and development budget proposals of 2018-2019 for the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH&W) have shown that Botswana is making a progress towards achieving UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.
Giving his Committee of Supply Speech recently, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Dikgang Makgalemele said the country adopted new innovations like HIV self-testing and implementation modalities, which were being worked out.
He pointed out that the ministry, with the assistance of PEPFAR, had been able to develop a Treat-All communication strategy and it was being disseminated to the districts to assist in improving uptake of this initiative.
“On another note, ART coverage since inception to September 2017 is 87% against the second 90. The community implementing partners are assisting in finding those who are HIV positive within the communities and linking them to care. PMTCT programme is in progress with the national MTCT rate at 1.4% in 2016. The process of validation of the pre-elimination of MTCT of HIV and syphilis has started with the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the technical working group has been trained. The third 90 of viral suppression has been achieved at 94%,” he said.
He indicated that the ministry would undertake a combined HIV/AIDS (BAIS V) and TB survey during 2017/18, which would be co-funded by the Government of Botswana and Global Fund. Although the survey did not take off as planned owing to a number of constraints, Makgalemele reported that substantial progress has been made in carrying out pre-implementation work. He said both a survey coordinator and a radiographer have been recruited and recruitment for the rest of survey personnel will be completed before the end of the current financial year.
“Procurement of items to be used for the survey is on-going. The revised commencement date for the survey is July 2018. The combined HIV/AIDS
He told the parliamentary committee that an HIV Prevention Pitso was held in October 2012 explaining that it was called for the expansion of the role of communities in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
To this end, a model called Community Acting Together to Control HIV/AIDS (CATCH) has been developed to empower communities to shoulder responsibility to curb the spread of HIV within them, alongside government efforts.
“In 2015, CATCH was piloted in South East District and results of its evaluation demonstrated that it is a model worth rolling out for the benefit of all communities in the country. A five-year national rollout plan for CATCH has been developed. The plan will initially benefit Chobe, Bobirwa and Jwaneng before it is extended to other districts,” he said.
MoH&W started the development of the Third National Strategic Framework (NSF III) for HIV and AIDS during the 2017/18 financial year and it is anticipated to be completed at the end of this financial year. NSF III, which is aligned to both Vision 2036 and National Development Plan (NDP 11), defines priority areas in the fight against HIV and AIDS towards which more effort and resources have to be directed for better results.
This means that the Strategy will guide all HIV/AIDS interventions in the country and the Ministry will also use it as a basis for soliciting support from development partners and other stakeholders for implementation of the same interventions.