Politicians Should Use Powers to Fight HIV

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK A SADC survey has found that parliamentarians are not taking full advantage of their constitutionally mandated powers to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the region. This was said on Monday by Broinne Dawson, Project Manager of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs at a roundtable discussion on HIV/AIDS between parliamentarians, business leaders and representatives of civil society “The HIV/AIDS pandemic is continuing to have a devastating impact on Africa, particularly in the southern African region, where many countries have prevalence rates that exceed 20 percent. While political leaders in the SADC region are making a concerted effort to respond to the crisis, executive branches are struggling to meet the myriad political, economic and social challenges the epidemic poses,” Dawson told the audience. According to her, the SADC Parliamentary Forum has conducted an assessment of efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the 12-country region, which culminated in a report entitled Survey of Legislative Efforts to Combat HIV/AIDS in Southern African Development Community Region. “This report concludes that parliamentarians are not taking full advantage to address the HIV/AIDS crisis. The report also highlights areas where parliamentarians can become more active in combating the pandemic. Based on this survey, NDI received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy to conduct pilot projects in three countries, namely, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia to strengthen parliamentary leadership and outreach on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care,” the American Project Manager said. In Namibia, the NDI has decided to organize public-sector forums to allow parliamentarians to learn about successful business-led initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS. The roundtable discussion continued yesterday morning and would take a resolution regarding a combating of HIV/AIDS programme for the country.