Gaborone — Since 1985, Botswana has embarked on a warfare against the spread of HIV/AIDS and mitigating its impact, says Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Mr Edwin Batshu.
Speaking at the Christian Health Partnership forum, Mr Batshu said HIV/AIDS used to be rampant and claimed many lives particularly of young people.
Mr Batshu said that similarly, the road accidents had become a major concern to government and to Batswana as it claimed many lives after becoming the second killer after HIV/AIDS.
He said since 1985, September has always been dedicated to prayer for the nation and churches in different corners of the country began to render fruitful prayers to seek protection from God from new infections of HIV.
Minister Batshu noted that the country had succeeded in the 99 per cent success rate of the PCMTC programme and to dispense free ARV medication for all who tested HIV positive and also noted a positive change in road accident since the start of the UN Decade of Action For Road Safety 2011/2020.
He said that all these improvements were brought about by concerted efforts of all stakeholders who dedicated their time to prayer adding that churches had played a significant role in the development of the country.
Mr Batshu said many churches in Botswana had contributed immensely to the development of the country by building schools, clinics and hospitals explaining that such gesture by the church planted positive hopes to the sick and complemented government's support to the communities.
He said that organisations such as ACHAP and BOCAIP were spreading their services to offer encouragement for behavioral change and dignity to those who were infected and affected by the HIV pandemic.
Mr Batshu said the country was experiencing social ills and moral decay which largely contributed to the increase of both road accidents and new HIV infections.
Minister Batshu said that government needed support from all stakeholders to bring back moral reawakening to the youth in schools as well as women and men adding that government strove to create a conducive environment under which supporters would operate from because the change in moral values was a priority in the national agenda.
The moral decay in the society, he said, manifested in social ills such as violence against women and children, drugs, alcohol abuse, human trafficking, road accidents and other ills.
Mr Batshu said the Vision 2036 provided for efficient and effective services supported by robust legal framework and decentralised governance which allowed for inclusive participation in the development process.
He said government continued to recognise the potential of churches to do more.
The objectives of the summit was to increase visibility to the HIV response by churches in Botswana and to challenge the church and its leaders to get engaged in bringing about the moral reawakening for Botswana to reduce reckless driving which leads to an increase in road accidents.
It is also to demonstrate that churches are concerned about the moral decay within the country which includes alcohol and substance abuse by people leading to reckless driving and increase in road crashes, deaths and cohabitation, suicide, gender based violence, intergenerational sex, defilement, teenage pregnancies and others.