Namibia leads in HIV battle

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WINDHOEK- Namibia is one of the leading countries in Africa and the world when it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, spoke about the country’s achievements on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at a media conference on Thursday.

Kamwi attended the just ended Global Fund’s fourth replenishment conference in the United States of America.

“The meeting took place on Monday and Tuesday. Namibia, represented by Kamwi, was invited to share on ‘Shared responsibility and accountability with regard to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria’,” he said.

“Namibia was invited for the international community to learn what works best,” he said of the two-day meeting that convened under the theme ‘No time to lose sharing the responsibility to save lives’.

In the Namibian fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria,  60 percent of the resources are from the government while 40 percent are from the Global Fund, American President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS (PEPFAR) and the European Union, said the minister.

Most governments only cover 40 percent while the rest is from donors, explained Kamwi.

“We were one of the first countries to put in place the Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission (PMTPT) and at the same time the antiretroviral therapy with government resources in 2003,” said Kamwi, who added that the Global Fund and PEPFAR came to the country’s assistance the following year.

“We are now investing 60 percent of resources in the fight against the three diseases,” said Kamwi.

He added that 85 percent of HIV positive Namibians receive antiretroviral therapy. “No country has reached that stage,” added Kamwi.

The minister said there is 90 percent coverage of PMPTC in the country and as a result 97 percent of babies born by HIV positive mothers are born HIV negative.

Kamwi further touched on the success story of malaria where at independence 7 000 people died as a result of malaria while only four deaths were recorded last year.

Furthermore, hailing the country’s success story the minister said XDR-TB (extensively drug resistant tuberculosis) no longer exists in Namibia.  The treatment rate for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is now 85 percent, he added.

Kamwi, who shared the country’s achievements at the meeting in the USA said the audience applauded the country’s progress in the fight against the three diseases.

“No country has moved up to this stage this fast,” stressed the health minister.

The aim now, he said, is for the country to move towards “zero new HIV infections, zero stigma and discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths”.

Of the US$750 000 (N$7.5 million) that Namibia has pledged to plough back to the Global Fund, the country remains with US$250 000 (N$ 2.5 million) that it would pay back this December, said Kamwi.

“From 2004 to date Namibia received funds from PEPFAR and the Global Fund and it is a must for Namibia to plough back,” he explained.

Namibia and Nigeria were the only African countries at the meeting that took place on Monday and Tuesday.

Bill Gates and congresswoman Nita Lowey are just some of those who hailed Namibia for its efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, he highlighted.

By Alvine Kapitako

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