Botswana fight against HIV/AIDS impressive Masisi

Masisi
Masisi

The vice president, Mokgweetsi Masisi said the country would continue its fight against HIV/AIDS.

Speaking at the National AIDS Council meeting recently, the new chairman said he was committed to ensuring continuous improvements in its business. He said given the changes in the HIV and AIDS landscape, there was need to re-structure the council by way of reviewing its mandate and membership to improve alignment to latest trends.

“The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in its 2015 session in April 2015 passed a resolution on UNAIDS encouraging accelerated action and investment in the next five years to be on track to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The Fast Track targets set for 2020 refer to 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90 percent of people who know their HIV-positive status are actually on treatment, and 90 percent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.  In short, this is referred to as the 90-90-90 targets,” he said.

Masisi explained that in order to sustain the achievements and make further gains against HIV in the immediate future, the country finalised an investment case to provide strategic direction not only to revitalise and integrate an overwhelmed and overburdened healthcare system, but also to refocus HIV prevention efforts and increase access to Antiretroviral therapy(ART).  He said for Botswana, sustaining a quality health care system, increasing access to ART and successfully addressing HIV prevention, was as critical now as it was when the original decision to launch its national ART programme in 2001.


Furthermore, he explained that in response to address HIV testing and counseling coverage gap, the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA), Ministry of Health (MoH), North West District Administrative Authority, in collaboration with UNAIDS, WHO, SIDA, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and other implementing partners, conducted an eight hours HIV testing and counseling campaign in Maun on November 29, 2014.

“The campaign aimed at mobilising individuals and their families to know their HIV status and seek HIV prevention and treatment services. During the eight hours, 2419 people were tested for HIV in Maun. Botswana, along with South Africa and Tanzania, won the title of Guinness World Records for Most People Tested for HIV in multiple venues,” he added.

Masisi stated that mayors from around the world came together in Paris on December 1, 2014 and signed a declaration to end AIDS in their cities and committed to the fast-track campaign as a way of boosting momentum. He added that the mayors also vowed to abide by a set of targets to achieve the 90-90-90 targets in their respective cities by 2020.

“In this respect we have been challenged as Botswana, through our mayors to play a leading role to achieve these outcomes. A programme of events for Gaborone City will be unveiled in the coming weeks. On the other hand, we are making impressive progress on provision of ARVs and eliminating mother to child transmission.

“Currently about all health facilities in Botswana are dispensing ART (561 out of 565 clinics and all 34 hospitals), with coverage levels estimated at 94.8 percent of those eligible for ART,” he added.

He pointed out that progress made to-date with regards to addressing issues of HIV and AIDS were impressive.  However, he said they were still faced with a challenge of behavioural change.  He said issues of multiple concurrent partners; inconsistent condom usage and intergenerational sex continue to be a concern.

He therefore appealed to the public to stop from such behaviour.

“The time is now to fully appreciate our different roles in ensuring Zero new HIV infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths by 2016 and work towards actualising the 90-90-90 targets by 2020 in order to end AIDS by 2030,” Masisi said.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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