Francistown — Ambassador Earl Miller of the United States says the partnership between his country and Botswana has continued to grow.
Speaking at the SEKWATA campaign launch on Friday, he said America, through the President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), had committed more than US$700 million to Botswana as assistance in the response to HIV.
Mr Miller said the two countries came a long way together in the last 12 years, but their work was far from done as the two countries would embark on other partnerships in the long run.
He said this year, PEPFAR Botswana launched a new era of evidence-based programming and investments had shifted as they had become more focused on the hardest-hit geographic areas and most impactful areas.
Ambassador Miller said they were actively working with partners to help Botswana achieve epidemic control by 2018 and they would need to focus on the right things which respect human rights, especially challenges faced by those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
He said applauded the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) for establishing the Infectious Disease Control Centre (IDCC) in Francistown.
He said his country contributed P3.5 million for construction, but the BDF mobilised the necessary stakeholders to bring this centre to fruition and provided the internal furnishings and connected the telecommunications and utilities services.
For his part, the BDF director general of support services, Major General Gotsileene Morake said indeed the relationships and cooperation between the BDF and the US military were deep and covered a broad of activities, not just limited to the handing over of the IDCC.
Maj Gen Morake said the IDCC, was the fifth HIV prevention and mitigation structure that had been constructed through the collaborative partnership they had with the US department of defence in the American Embassy.
He said the first IDCC was constructed at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) in 2008, followed by Eastern Military Garrison (EMG), a laboratory in Francistown and a resource centre in Maun and said that all of these projects are currently operational as originally intended.
In addition, Maj Gen Morake said IDCC's were established to provide one stop integrated HIV services and Francistown centre would be providing, but not limited to the following services, routine HIV Testing, ARV programme, Safe Male Circumcision, dispensary services, health education and clinical consultations in general.
He further encouraged members of the BDF to utilise the facility effectively and wished they could all perceive the centre as a valuable addition to their personal life and organisational growth.
Furthermore, Major General Morake said the launched annual HIV/AIDS initiative dubbed SEKWATA campaign in all BDF camps would focus primarily on Voluntary Safe Male Circumcision (SMC).
He said the BDF upholds the SMC programme as one of the prevention strategies to embrace other prevention initiatives like consistent condom use and voluntary counselling and testing.
Maj Gen Morake said there was growing evidence that voluntary male circumcision reduced HIV incidence in men.
He further said there was also growing evidence, which showed that as more men get circumcised, women's likelihood of sexual exposure to HIV also decreases, and their risk of HIV infection also declines.
Maj Gen Morake stated that it had also been proved that in addition to the reduction in risk of HIV acquisition among circumcised men, circumcision provides other health benefits to both men and women.
Source : BOPA