Africa Command Well Intended - US Envoy

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The establishment of the United States Africa Command will be a unique military command that would incorporate representatives from other US government agencies, such as the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

US ambassador Katherine Canavan said this at the official opening of Lobatse Tebelopele Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre last week.
Canavan said the reasons for its (US Command) establishment has been greatly misunderstood in southern Africa. She said the agencies would not have representatives on the Africa Command so the military could direct their operations but that the US Department of Defence "can better support efforts to improve conditions in Africa by promoting economic development, combating disease, and responding to natural disasters and famines".


Through the efforts of Africa Command the Americans "hope that in the coming years, buildings such as this, will be common across Africa," she said of the P1.5 million Tebelopele structure.


The US envoy added that through President George W. Bush's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Washington has provided P170 million in support for of people of Botswana. She said the support was through providing counselling, care, and medicine, amongst others, to help combat the HIV epidemic.


Canavan said that the Department of Defence Humanitarian Assistance Programme, which is working with the Rotary Club, has constructed orphan day care and youth centres in Molepolole and Mogoditshane for over 800 orphans and vulnerable children of all ages.
She emphasised the need for people to test and know their status.


Area Member of Parliament (MP) Nehemiah Modubule said the counselling and testing centre in Lobatse was opened in January 2002 and had by December last year, served 15, 019 clients. He said 11, 209 of them were first-time testers.


Modubule said the overall prevalence rate of HIV infection has been declining from its highest of 38 in every 100 in 2003 to 18 percent in every 100 by end of last year.
He challenged men to invalidate the notion that men do not go for tests, saying men were known to be courageous. Modubule said that people should put the Tebelopele facility to full place. He said that couples should avoid getting infected or re-infection. "Always use a condom correctly or abstain, it is possible," he said.
"I have tested and I know my status. It is my own affair and I am not compelled to go public," he said.


Also present was Assistant Minister of Education Moggie Mbaakanyi, who appreciated the gesture by US Defence Department for helping to fund the facility. "Armies are usually associated with wars," she said.
She said that Tebelopele has not been utilised to the maximum because of its previous location in residential areas. The new location is ideal, she said.


 

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