7 November 2017

Namibia Gets N$435 Million War Chest to Fight HIV

Windhoek — Namibia has signed an amendment to the 2007 bilateral grant agreement with the USA to add N$435 million of funding under the US government's President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to help fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The money would help the Namibian government to achieve its plans outlined under the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), which identified the importance of building capable and healthy human resources,

accelerating the development of human capabilities in the health sector and address the shortage of health infrastructure facilities.

"While Namibia, like most of the countries in Southern Africa, is affected by the scourge of HIV/AIDS and related health problems, the country has remarkable strides in the reduction of new infection," said the National Planning Commission yesterday, while confirming this new development.

Namibia has one of the best records of the distribution of anti-retroviral drugs and population coverage, which is said to have lessened the negative impact that HIV/AIDS could potentially have on the socio-economy landscape.

Statistics show that the country has significantly reduced maternal and neonatal mortality, while both infant and under-five mortality has declined. HIV/AIDS in pregnant women has reduced from a peak of 22 percent in 2002 to 16.9 percent in 2014.

Since 2010, the US Government development assistance to Namibia has focused on the HIV epidemic, with USAID supporting Namibia's national HIV response. "This work includes general HIV testing and treatment, prevention measures, capacity building and logistics support," the National Planning Commission said.

"All of these elements are essential for Namibia to be able to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals (90 percent of all Namibians infected with HIV know their status, 90 percent of those individuals are on treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment are non-infectious)."

"When this is achieved and sustained, the HIV epidemic will officially be considered under control. Namibia is close to achieving this goal."

Economic planning minister Tom Alweendo, speaking at the signing of the new agreement, noted that: "To achieve Namibia's development aspirations, it is important for us to ensure that our development partnerships have real impact on our development challenges."

The minister thanked the US government for the continuous support in the health sector.

According to the health ministry's child survival strategy of 2014, HIVAIDS was responsible for 3 610 deaths that year.

The shortage of medical doctors and other key healthcare workers has not worked in favour of the country's fight against the spread of HIV.

In 2016, the ministry of health announced that about 214 956 Namibians are living with HIV, of which an estimated 17 000 are youths between the ages of 10 and 19. About 42 500 HIVpositive people who are eligible for anti-retroviral therapy were not yet on treatment as of 2016.

Of the 214 956 people infected with HIV, 68 percent of them are receiving antiretroviral therapy, according to the ministry.

HIV testing among pregnant women is also high, with more than 95 percent of pregnant women knowing their status, while over 90 percent enrol for the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programme.

A report on the 2012 national HIV sentinel survey shows that about 27 000 people were on

PMTCT, while others do not go for treatment, despite government's efforts to have mothers give birth to HIVnegative children.

Namibia

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