Moshupa — Acting minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Mr Dikgang Makgalemele has called on stakeholders to augment government efforts to reduce HIV prevalence.
Officially launching the Month of Youth Against AIDS (MYAA) in Moshupa on Saturday, Mr Makgalemele said as the world aspired to end the AIDS pandemic by the year 2030, there was need for stakeholders to unite and double efforts towards the realisation of the goal.
"As we strive to end AIDS by 2030, we should not forget our Setswana proverb 'moroto wa o esi ga o ele' which reminds us that government alone cannot manage, however through partnerships and collaborative efforts we can succeed in fighting the scourge," he noted.
He said Botswana's current 18.5 per cent prevalence rate indicated there were still new infections among the youth, especially females. He said the figure put Botswana as the third highest globally, hence the need to introspect and take action.
Furthermore, Mr Makgalemele underscored the need for behavioural change among young people, which he said should start with testing for HIV and reducing risky sexual behaviours.
He said this year's theme 'Know Your Status', called on everybody to know their HIV status, which would ultimately reduce new infections.
He said government was committed to addressing challenges facing the youth such as high unemployment rate, crime, lack of professional guidance, among others.
His ministry, he said, would continue to engage the youth on such issues and possible solutions thereof. Mr Makgalemele said this year's commemoration had a more impactful model where young people were engaged through dialogues and symposiums to unearth issues and trends, the findings of which would inform HIV/AIDS programmes.
Through programmes such as the Youth Development Fund and constituency sport competitions, government continued to mould young people's behaviour as a way of mitigating against the HIV/AIDS effects.
"One of the tools we have been using to mitigate against the effects of the scourge is the roll out of our programmes such as the Youth Development Fund and constituency sport tournaments, among others. These programmes have shaped the behaviour of our youth, moulding them into responsible citizens and successful entrepreneurs because their aim is to engage youth meaningfully," Mr Makgalemele said.
For her part, Botswana National Youth Council programmes coordinator Ms Boikarabelo Diane said through this year's theme, they were encouraging more young people to test for HIV and change behaviour.
She said since the inauguration of MYAA, whose main objectives were sensitisation, community mobilisation and advocacy campaigns have had a positive impact as young people continued to take part in programmes such as peer education, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission as well as enrolling for Anti-Retroviral treatment.
Apart from having various activities in the hardest hit areas, she said, a more impactful way of engaging young people within their settings such as schools, tertiary institutions and in workplaces had been adopted.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>