8 December 2008

Namibia: PM Launches HIV Booster Packs

IMMUNE booster packs to strengthen the immune systems of people living with HIV and AIDS have been added to the Ministry of Education's initiatives in mitigating the effect of HIV-AIDS in the education sector.

The booster packs are not a cure but rather an aid to ensure that teachers and ministry staff infected by HIV-AIDS have strong immune systems that will allow their antiretroviral (ARV) medication to be more effective, and thereby enhance their productivity.

The booster packs contain supplements supplying 100 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of the various nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed to keep the immune system functioning well.

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Nahas Angula said the AIDS mortality among teachers and ministry staff is undermining the ministry's ability to achieve its objectives.

"We all know that education can be a powerful force - perhaps the most powerful force of all in combating the spread of HIV and AIDS.

But just as education can contribute to weakening the grip of HIV and AIDS, so also the epidemic can weaken an education system's ability to function," the Prime Minister said.

The Ministry of Education employs more than 40 000 people.

It is hoped that the booster packs will reduce absenteeism among teachers.

Education's impact on HIV-AIDS* The rate of teenage pregnancy among secondary school graduates is 5 per cent, compared to 45 per cent among girls with pre-primary or no education.

* Girls with incomplete primary education are more than twice as likely to have sex with men 10 or more years older (8 per cent) compared to 3 per cent of girls with completed secondary education.

* The likelihood of girls having sex while drunk or with a partner who is drunk significantly declines with more education - 2 per cent who have more than secondary education have had sex while drunk or with a partner who is drunk, compared to 10 per cent of those with no education.

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