THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has given N$240 million towards a programme that seeks to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in Namibia.
The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) programme will provide comprehensive solutions empowering young women from the Oshikoto, Khomas and Zambezi regions to remain HIV-free and achieve their full potential.
In a speech read on his behalf at an event at Ekulo Secondary School in Omuthiya, Oshikoto region on Friday, USAID Country Representative Randy Kolstad said DREAMS provides solutions that go beyond traditional health services to address risk factors such as dropping out of school, social isolation, economic disadvantage and gender-based violence (GBV).
He emphasised that by September this year, the programme is expected to reach 15 000 adolescent girls and young women with HIV and GBV prevention education packages, at both school and community level.
"DREAMS cannot remove all the challenges from adolescent girls and young women's paths. However, it can give them tools to overcome them," he said.
Kolstad noted that a total of 32 schools in the Oshikoto region would benefit from the programme and 20 facilitators were trained to provide economic strengthening skills among the target group in the region.
He further said the programme would reach out to 10 000 orphans and vulnerable girls and women between ages 10 and 24 with services such as food security, psychological care, family support, legal and child protection.
Other services include counselling on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for adolescent girls and young women at risk of HIV infection.
The DREAMS programme is funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) through USAID throughout five years. - Nampa